How to do this business when light food becomes the "new social"

  Every weekday at noon, there will be a long queue at the "Super Bowl Healthy Light Food" store on the basement level of Beijing Yingke Center. From the selection of carbohydrates, protein, plant fiber, ingredients to beverages and snacks, rice and meat on the home-cooked table , Cai is given a new name here.

Young people working nearby like to take photos of such a good-looking and well-balanced light lunch and upload it to the circle of friends. While winning likes, they also gained a group of "comrades in the same way."

At the moment when the concept of zero sugar and zero fat is all the rage, "light food socialization" has become a new way that young people love.

  After entering China for more than ten years, "imported" light foods have gradually been known and chosen by more and more young people.

In December 2020, the "White Paper on Chinese People's Light Food Consumption Behavior in 2020" released by the Chinese Nutrition Society showed that 94.9% of the surveyed people consume light food at least once a week, and 55.7% consume 2-4 times a week. Ordinary employees and college students of enterprises account for the largest proportion of light food consumers.

When young people who are willing to try new things choose light food, what do they eat?

Young people lead the new "food style" of light food

  Xiao Lu, a post-90s girl who works in a financial company in Beijing, has already "checked in" many light food stores with her colleagues in order to "wear a beautiful little skirt in the summer".

"We often talk about which light food is delicious. We like all kinds of low-calorie (luli) meals. There are vegetables, meat, and miscellaneous grains. It is easy to eat." Xiaolu told the China Youth Daily and China Youth Daily reporter. "Many of my friends around me are eating light meals, which saves time, eats well, and enjoys weight loss."

  Working mother Xiaodan obviously feels that with the arrival of summer, more and more young people are exposed to light food on social media.

Although she has been thinking about losing weight after childbirth, she has no time to go to the gym while working for an Internet company, so she also joined the ranks of light food lovers. "In addition to social gatherings and family gatherings, she always insists on reducing oil, salt, and calories. After eating, watching the weight drop, the mood will become better, and the whole person will be lighter."

  It looks good, it is nutritious to eat, with less oil and salt and whole grains. This is the intuitive impression left by the light food industry to the public.

Although it is jokingly called "grazing", in fact, light eating is not just a vegetable salad, nor does it refer to a specific food, but a new way of eating.

  Fan Zhihong, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, College of Food Science and Technology of China Agricultural University, once mentioned in his public article that the word "light" of light food has hit the weak underbelly of contemporary young people. Women all want to be light and good in shape, and men also want it. I am refreshing and not greasy.

"In light food, people abandon the heavy smoke and fire, forget the cumbersome cooking, life becomes more relaxed and casual, light food has even evolved into a healthy concept."

  With the upgrading of consumption and the improvement of public health awareness, especially during the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the general health industry has become popular, and light food has gradually become a new "food style" for a large number of young people. Take-out has also become a new position for young people to "check in" and "plant grass".

In recent years, the canteens of many colleges and universities including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Sichuan University, Yangzhou University, Yunnan Normal University, etc. have targeted this "wind" and launched light food stalls one after another.

  Such a niche diet, relying on low-calorie, high-value appearance and the healthy concept behind it, has brushed a large wave of "sense of existence" in the hearts of young people.

“Just like the new tea drinks now, it has become a habit for young people to post pictures and interact on social platforms after buying high-value milk tea.” Zhang Jie, founder and CEO of Huadan Angel Investment, is also a light food enthusiast. She found that every When I posted my light meal set in the circle of friends for the second time, many boys and girls would leave a message, “Some consulted whether light food is good or not, and some shared experiences. Light food has been given social attributes to a certain extent. It is also one of the reasons why light meals can attract young people."

How to grab a young man's stomach when doing light food

  A data from Euromonitor International shows that China's light meal replacement market is expected to reach 120 billion yuan in 2022.

In fact, behind the boom, the light food market has also experienced ups and downs in China.

  According to an estimate, at least 1 billion capital entered the light food market from 2015 to 2017, but in 2018, a large number of light food startups closed down due to various reasons, and capital withdrew accordingly.

Nowadays, as "healthy China" has become a buzzword, the light food market has "made a comeback", and a large number of new consumer brands of light food have poured into the market in the past two years.

Meituan Takeaway data shows that under the epidemic, the public's pursuit of a healthy life is increasing. In the second half of 2020, young food takeaway orders have increased by 50% year-on-year, and the number of online light food merchants has also increased by 27% year-on-year.

  How can the light food industry, which has a vast market but fierce competition, grab the stomach of young people?

  Meng Yue Light Food, which has been established for 5 years, has gained a large number of "loyal fans" among the local young white-collar workers.

Its founder Liu Chen told reporters from China Youth Daily and China Youth Daily that they have targeted young white-collar workers from the very beginning. “The clientele is mainly women. Our dietitians will carry out carbon water, vegetable fiber, and meat based on the physical characteristics of Chinese women. We strictly control the calorie ratio. Fresh ingredients and food safety are the bottom line. Although customers can order meals for a week to 20 days at a time, we will make them on the same day and deliver them to customers before 12 noon every day."

Liu Chen said that the current peak season is about 200-300 people ordering meals every week, and the cumulative users are about 40,000 to 50,000.

  Unlike Meng Yue, which specializes in takeaway food, Beijing’s "Internet celebrity" light food brand Vegetable Box has opened 11 directly-operated stores, and recently signed 5 new stores.

"After developing condiments and cooking methods by ourselves, we researched and launched low-calorie meals in autumn and winter in response to the different dietary habits brought about by different seasons. The food is mainly grains, supplemented by vegetables and meat, and it is full of food. It also has healthy added value." Zhang Xiaosong, the founder of Vegetable Box, said that the sales of salads in spring and summer accounted for about 60%, but in autumn and winter, low-calorie meals accounted for 60% of total sales.

  "The reason why the public believes that the light food industry has a low threshold is because some businesses do not have the ability to research and develop, but simply combine raw materials such as vegetables. In fact, the combination of ingredients must not only conform to the nutritional structure, but also meet the tastes of the Chinese, and at the same time Meet the visual pursuit of young people".

Zhang Xiaosong believes that healthy eating is a major trend in the future. Although light food is only a sub-industry, it is still rising rapidly. "From our own data, sales in March of this year have reached historical highs. At present, we work for many Internet companies. Provide corporate group meal solutions. In the future, we will launch more businesses for healthy family eating."

  "In the epidemic prevention and control phase last year, orders have risen by nearly 50% in the first week after we resumed work. When a customer communicated with us, they expressed greater emphasis on health."

Liu Chen and his team have been thinking about the competitiveness of seizing this wave of craze. “Products need to be continuously iterated to ensure freshness. This will test R&D capabilities and back kitchen capabilities. In fact, the light food industry will never be able to do Chinese food. And fried chicken, but we can make light meals as Chinese as possible instead of serving cold vegetables."

Although the cake of the 100 billion light food market is big, it cannot be entered blindly

  According to the data from Tianyan Check, there are currently more than 8,000 light food meal replacement enterprises in my country that are active, surviving, moving in, or moving out.

In the past five years, the annual registration volume of my country's light food meal replacement companies has shown an overall upward trend.

Subject to industrial and commercial registration, my country will have more than 3,000 new light meal replacement enterprises in 2020; as of April 29, my country has added nearly 1,300 new ones this year.

Industry insiders believe that with the further improvement of the living standards of second- and third-tier cities and the increase in demand for healthy diets, light meal replacement consumption will develop in second- and third-tier cities, with huge development space.

  Although the "cake" is big, it is still difficult to survive in the light food segment for a long time.

  As of the end of March this year, the chain brand Super Deer Team established in 2016 has reached 470 stores nationwide.

Mei Tianyu, its co-founder, believes: "More and more people choose to eat light food, and the light food track will be an incremental market. The competition in the huge market is diversified. In addition to continuous innovation and research and development of recipes, it is aimed at young people. In terms of marketing, we will also cooperate with some fitness and fitness competitions to make brand differentiation."

  "In addition to R&D, the future will be the competition of light food brands." Liu Chen reminded that despite the large market, "don't just look at the high order volume on the surface. It is used in R&D, labor, supply chain, etc. Calculating the cost of food, light food is not a particularly profitable industry, and you need to carefully consider where your competitiveness is."

  Zhang Jie believes that light food, like milk tea and mala Tang, will be more "universal". "The population base of China is here. For entrepreneurs in the light food track, don’t be greedy with milk tea, mala Tang and other categories. Tens of thousands of stores. Instead, we should conscientiously manage our own track, either continuously expanding competitive categories, or cultivating the target customer group in the city where we are located, increasing penetration and recognition."

  For a wide variety of light meals, Fan Zhihong also reminded in his public article that there may also be many "traps" in light meals. Light salads seem to be a large plate of vegetables, but the total amount of vegetables is not enough; in light salads It usually contains steamed or raw fish and meat, but the total amount is very small, and there are very few staple foods.

Regular consumption of vegetable salad instead of regular meals can also easily cause problems such as insufficient protein.

She believes that young people who love light food should think clearly that if they are only pursuing the taste of fashion concepts, they can eat whatever type of light food they like and how to eat; if it is to solve the hunger between meals or working overtime at night It’s healthier to think of light food as a snack or supper. But if it’s for weight loss and beauty, light food alone may not be able to achieve the goal. A protein-deficient diet can also cause dry skin, hair loss, and lower physical strength.

"As long as you use healthy ingredients, plus cooking methods that reduce high temperatures and reduce oil, salt and sugar, light food is healthy. As for how to cleverly combine it in a long-term healthy diet, you can keep your body light and improve your life at the same time. Quality lies in the wisdom of young people."

  China Youth Daily·China Youth Daily reporter Meng Peipei