Report on the Development of Chinese Barbecue Category 2023: Opportunities for One Person Food Barbecue Storage

By orchioo Oct27,2022

What are the new development trends of barbecue products in 2023? What are the development opportunities?
These questions can be found in the “China Barbecue Category Development Report 2023” recently released by the Red Food Brand Research Institute!
This spring, Zibo barbecue has become a hot topic of attention across the internet, adding to the popularity of the entire barbecue category and even marking the beginning of the peak barbecue season ahead of schedule.
At present, the May Day holiday is approaching, and consumers’ demand for eating meat and indulging in skewers is expected to be released, which will inevitably elevate the popularity of barbecue to a new level.
So, what is the competitive landscape of the hot opening barbecue category in 2023? What new changes and opportunities will there be? This report will provide you with detailed answers.
1、 The barbecue category has entered a multidimensional competition stage
Barbecue, as a long-standing catering category, has a large number of followers in China. According to different roasting methods, barbecue is mainly divided into two product forms: skewers and grilled meat.
(1) There are many genres of barbecue products
Grilled skewers refer to the product form of cutting ingredients into blocks, threading them onto bamboo or iron skewers, and then roasting them in a charcoal fire or gas stove. Common types of skewers include lamb skewers, chicken skewers, beef skewers, roasted eggplants, roasted corn, and more.
Due to regional differences, there are significant differences in ingredients, portions, seasoning, and eating methods of skewers, which have also led to different factions. It has mainstream factions such as Northeast Barbecue, Southwest Barbecue, Southeast Barbecue, Northwest Barbecue, and has also differentiated into different sub factions under each mainstream faction, such as Sichuan Barbecue, Xinjiang Barbecue, Jinzhou Barbecue, Zhanjiang Barbecue, Zibo Barbecue, etc.
Barbecue refers to the product form formed by slowly roasting a whole piece of cured or seasoned meat on a charcoal fire or electric stove. According to different regional genres, barbecue is mainly divided into Chinese barbecue, Korean barbecue, Japanese barbecue, and fusion barbecue. Among them, there are many sub genres of Chinese barbecue, including Beijing grilled pork, Inner Mongolia grilled pork, Hunan style grilled pork, etc.
A wide variety of barbecue sub genres present unique flavors and flavors, greatly enriching the product library of China’s barbecue categories and providing consumers with diverse consumer experiences.
(2) Development History of Barbecue Category
As one of the most smoky food and beverage categories, barbecue occupies an important position in our national food culture. However, for a long time in the past, the barbecue category has remained at the stage of market stalls and couple shops, falling into an awkward situation of “having categories but no brands”.
It was not until recent years that the barbecue category entered the stage of chain development, and many potential brands emerged. Overall, barbecue can be divided into the three development stages mentioned above.
2、 In 2022, the barbecue market exceeded 220 billion yuan in scale
After years of development, the barbecue category has accumulated a large consumer group, and with the assistance of the night economy, its market size is also continuously growing. In 2022, the barbecue category market size exceeded 220 billion yuan.
Although the market size of barbecue products continues to rise, in recent years, barbecue products have been impacted and the growth rate of market size has slowed down. Especially in 2022, the situation of the domestic COVID-19 will become severe and complex, and the catering industry will be greatly affected. Against this backdrop, the market size growth rate of barbecue products has further slowed down from 2021, with a year-on-year increase of only 4.4%.
In 2023, against the backdrop of the overall recovery of national consumption in China, the barbecue market is expected to have a booming start, and the scale of the barbecue market in 2023 is bound to rise.
Although the market size of barbecue products continues to grow, the scale of barbecue products is still relatively low. According to the big data of red food, over a quarter of barbecue brands have less than 5 stores, with brands with 5-50 stores accounting for the highest proportion, reaching 62.8%, while brands with over 50 stores account for only 10.9%.
It can be seen that small chain brands are the mainstream players in the barbecue track, while there are fewer medium to large chain brands.
The sub categories of barbecue mainly include skewers and grilled meat. In terms of the number of stores, skewers are the highest proportion sub category in the barbecue category, accounting for 60.5% of the total. From traditional lamb skewers to creative mushroom skewers and seafood, to modern style cheese skewers and fruit and vegetable skewers, the variety and style of skewers have been enriched through continuous innovation.
In addition, the number of barbecue stores accounts for 36.3%, while other types of barbecue stores account for 3.2%.
The consumption scenarios of barbecue mainly focus on group social gatherings, such as friends, classmates, family, and even work gatherings. It can be seen that barbecue, like hotpot, has strong social attributes. According to the “2023 Catering Consumption Survey” initiated by the Red Food Brand Research Institute, the proportion of respondents who go to barbecue restaurants for consumption is based on friends’ gatherings, family gatherings, and colleagues’ gatherings, respectively, reaching 81.3%, 50.7%, and 47.8%.
Meanwhile, according to the big data of Red Food, as of April 2023, the number of barbecue stores in China is approximately 474000, including 287000 skewers and 172000 barbecue meat stores, and 444000 hotpot stores.
There is not much difference in the total number of stores between barbecue and hotpot, but the number of hotpot brands with over 500 stores is clearly much higher than the barbecue category. It is not difficult to see that the scale and branding development of the barbecue category is far inferior to that of the hotpot category.
From the perspective of brand competition pattern, the current barbecue category is showing a situation of “one super and multiple strong”, while the barbecue skewer category currently has no absolute giant brand. Founded in Hohhot in 2015, Jiutian Family Cuisine Barbecue is the barbecue brand with the largest number of stores. According to the big data of Red Food, as of April 2023, its number of stores reached 961, far surpassing other barbecue brands.
From the perspective of sub categories of barbecue, with the gradual decline of the trend in Japan and South Korea in recent years, Japanese and South Korean barbecue brands have fallen into development bottlenecks. The current store sizes of Neolithic barbecue and Hannah Mountain barbecue have shrunk to varying degrees compared to peak periods.
Around 2021, the trend of China-Chic, integration and innovation will rise in the barbecue track, and the new Chinese style integration barbecue brand will rise accordingly. The brand of Beimunan barbecue and wine, Jiushi barbecue, Qijiu barbecue and other brands will rapidly expand their stores. However, since 2022, many new Chinese barbecue brands have experienced varying degrees of decline in their expansion speed, and even some brands have experienced store shrinkage. From this perspective, the barbecue category is facing a new round of pattern reshaping, and only a well-established barbecue brand can continue to iterate and have a good foothold.
In terms of skewers, according to Red Food’s big data, as of April 2023, the skewer brand with the highest number of stores is Chuanyi Quan, which has opened a total of 516 stores nationwide; Next is the wooden house barbecue, with a total of 211 stores.
Chuanyi relies heavily on the franchise model to quickly expand its stores. At the end of 2022, Wooden House Barbecue also announced the opening of internal franchises, which means franchise qualifications are open to outstanding employees, store managers, and technical talents who have worked in Wooden House Barbecue for more than 5 years. This means that the future expansion of wooden house barbecue may have a certain degree of acceleration. The competitive landscape of the skewer brand has not yet been finalized, waiting for the birth of the Qiandian brand.
3、 Those who have access to the barbecue supply chain have access to the world
The common characteristics of the two categories of barbecue and hot pot are rich dishes, low dependence of chefs, and relatively low difficulty in standardizing the supply chain. Therefore, many industry insiders believe that the supply chain of barbecue and hot pot is similar. However, according to the analysis of the Red Food Brand Research Institute, the similarity between the supply chain of different barbecue sub tracks and the supply chain of hot pot varies, and the supply chain shortcomings they face are also different.
Barbecue ingredients do not need to be strung together. After thawing and cutting, the meat ingredients can be directly roasted on a grill or grill. Meanwhile, there are relatively few types of vegetable ingredients. Therefore, overall, compared to the skewer category, there are relatively fewer restrictions on the supply chain of the barbecue category.
The key points of standardizing the barbecue category are the pickling of ingredients and the roasting after serving. Due to the low culinary requirements of roasting itself, consumers can choose self-service roasting or assistant roasting, which is similar to the way hot pot dishes are served. Therefore, barbecue brands may be able to share the supply chain with hotpot brands.
Ruxiabu Xiabu launched a high-end barbecue brand called Xianshao in September 2022. Taking advantage of the diversified business format of “barbecue+wine tea”, the per capita consumption circle of Shaoshao is around 170 yuan. According to data released by Xiabu Xiabu in December 2022, the average monthly revenue of the first store in Shanghai has exceeded 2.5 million yuan, with a turnover rate of 3-6 times per day. The annual single store revenue is expected to exceed 30 million yuan.
For skewers, the supply chain is a key factor that constrains brands from expanding their stores. Due to the short supply chain of grilled skewers, the link with higher premium space is threading and pickling. However, these two links lack large-scale and powerful suppliers.
Firstly, the difficulty of achieving standardization through threading is relatively high. Due to the high requirements for the delicacy of ingredients in skewers, such as equal length for leeks and consistent size for eggplants, manual threading has not yet been completely separated before the program. Only a small number of brands use machine threading, and most skewer shops still use manual threading.
Although brands such as Wooden House Barbecue, Ice City String Bar, and Gathering Point String Bar have built their own central kitchens, they still transport the purchased raw materials to the central kitchen for manual threading. Long ago, brands such as lamb skewers and Fengmao grilled skewers mainly focused on instant skewers and grilled skewers. Their store management model is front store and back factory, which means directly collecting ingredients from the store to the upstream source and completing the manual threading process directly in the store.
Overall, the production capacity of manual threading is low and the labor cost is high. Although some brands also use machines for stringing, machine stringing not only has certain requirements for meat quality, but also has significant losses. Therefore, it is currently not widely used in the industry, and the high entry threshold for meat skewer suppliers makes them relatively scarce.
Secondly, the supplier’s participation in the pickling process is low. The pickling process is crucial for skewer brands, as ingredient pickling is the key to their unique taste, so many brands choose to pickle themselves. In this context, the participation of suppliers in the pickling process of skewers is not high. The supplier of skewer ingredients only plays the role of providing ingredients, with relatively limited profit margins. The skewer supplier lacks the motivation for large-scale development.
In summary, in the supply chain system of grilled skewers, it is difficult to find good cooperation interests between the skewer brand and the upstream food supply chain, resulting in low coupling between the two and limiting the branding and scale development of the category.
From this perspective, building a self built supply chain may become the key to the development and expansion of skewer brands. However, the self built supply chain requires a high level of comprehensive strength for skewer brands, and not all brands can achieve it. This is also the main reason why it is currently difficult for skewer brands to achieve rapid and large-scale development. Those barbecue skewer brands that have successfully established a complete supply chain system have a competitive advantage.
4、 One person eating barbecue saves opportunities
The increase in the number of people living alone and single is the main reason for the strong demand for “one person food”.
According to the results of the seventh national population census, the average household size has decreased by 0.48 people compared to 10 years ago. Meanwhile, the “New Era of Solitude Report” released by the Shell Research Institute predicts that “the number of people living alone may reach 15-20 million by 2030, and the solitude rate may exceed 30%. Among them, young people aged 20-39 who live alone may increase from 18 million in 2010 to 40-70 million by 2030, an increase of about 1-2 times.” At the same time, data from the “China Marriage and Family Report 2022 Edition” shows that the number of marriage registration pairs in 2021 will decrease to 7.636 million, And it has been declining for eight consecutive years.
From the above data, it is not difficult to see that the number of people living alone and single in China is gradually increasing, followed by a growing market demand for single person dining. For the barbecue category with strong social attributes, the one person barbecue dining market still needs to be developed.
Nowadays, some businesses have targeted this blank market and started launching “one person meal” barbecue packages. For example, NIKUGAIYA mini, which focuses on the development of the Shaanxi region, not only allows for one person barbecue meat to be eaten in person, but also allows for one person barbecue meat takeout bento. Currently, it has opened four stores. Akasaka Yiding, which focuses on Guangzhou, has entered the “one person food” market with a single person, single stove Japanese style barbecue. Currently, it has opened five stores in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
5、 New selling points for self-service barbecue made by cutting and stringing in clear files
Nowadays, the self-service style of supermarkets has gradually spread from hotpot, skewers and other categories to barbecue, and many brands have made corresponding attempts, such as Habanchang in Foshan, Junfu Barbecue Freedom in Hangzhou, and Northeast Xiaopangdun self-service barbecue.
This type of self selected barbecue adopts an open kitchen, which directly presents the process of preparing vegetables and cutting meat to consumers, and puts the prepared meat skewers, vegetables, and other ingredients into the freezer for users to choose from themselves. Not only that, some brands also continue the traditional barbecue service form, providing “table side help grilling” services to customers who do not know how to grill.
Overall, this self-service barbecue has transformed from the past “self selection in the freezer+self baking” to a comprehensive form of “clear dish preparation+self selection in the freezer+self baking/assistant baking”, which not only further enhances the freedom of dining methods for barbecue categories, but also enhances consumers’ dining experience.
Therefore, for barbecue brands that cut and grill on the spot, this measure will not add too much labor and can bring a better experience, or you can try it out.

By orchioo

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