Chinese-Western breakfast sets proving to be a hit among locals
For many Chinese consumers, a satisfying breakfast is one that includes either hot porridge or steamed buns. Cold sandwiches, which are usually popular with Westerners, are probably one of the last options on their minds.
But that is not to say that consumers, especially those in a cosmopolitan city like Shanghai, would shun everything considered Western for breakfast.
For instance, coffee, which has steadily grown in popularity in the country, is one beverage that many cannot do without today.
To cater to this growing demand for breakfast sets that combine elements from the East and the West, food companies have been rolling out a host of new offerings to reel in the customers.
One example is Shanghai Qiao Coffee, which was launched by local time-honored food company Qiaojiashan at the end of 2019. Apart from its traditional dim sum fare, the store also sells various types of coffee such as cold brew, flat white and even sweet fermented-rice latte.
The bestselling coffee, according to the eatery, is the hand-brewed option made from rare Guixia coffee beans which was awarded more than 90 points in the Special Coffee Association's scoring system.
Shanghai Qiao Coffee's first outlet was evidently a success－the company opened its second branch on the West Bund in January.
According to Shen Yan, deputy manager of Shanghai Qiaojiashan Food Development Co Ltd, the most popular breakfast set at the moment is the steamed vegetable bun paired with black coffee.
"The calories that one gets from a meal featuring Chinese dim sum and coffee are less than those of a Western breakfast. Since a steamed bun has nearly 200 calories and a cup of Americano barely has any, this combination can be considered healthy and delicious," said Shen, who added that the brand's current goal is to further explore the business model before deciding whether to turn the store into a chain.
Even the smaller players in the food scene are jumping on the East-West breakfast bandwagon. Many smaller shops, especially those in the Wujiaochang area in Yangpu district, where many universities and colleges are located, have started introducing sets such as drip bag coffee with baked barbecued pork puff and sandwiches with soybean milk.
Western food establishments, too, have been rolling out Chinese breakfast options. Pizza Hut, for instance, now offers hot dry noodles, or re gan mian, a traditional dish of Wuhan of Hubei province, while KFC and McDonalds have a rice set meal and a Shaanxi-style bun respectively.
"The emergence of more combinations of breakfast options shows that the potential demand is being recognized. This will ultimately be conducive to the development of the market," Shen said.
"Consumers and even cultural heritage will also benefit from the increased competition. If not for the current trend which has revived interest in certain traditional pastries, these foods could soon be lost to history."