Regulatory changes a boon for breakfast vendors
Shanghai's consumer market watchdog announced several new measures on Wednesday meant to support small breakfast vendors and foster new business models.
The measures are intended to help vendors expand their food offerings and break previous constraints imposed by space requirements.
Minimum space requirements for restaurant operating areas, cold food making areas and drink shops have been lifted, the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation announced in a notice on promoting the city's breakfast market.
Customer waiting areas and spaces with food lockers for app-based ordering can also now be counted as dining space during the business review and approval process, the administration said.
Pick'n Go, a breakfast chain serving items such as steamed buns, sandwiches and soybean milk was required to have at least 80 square meters of food preparation space based on past requirements, and the total business venue would amount to nearly 100 square meters if a dining area was added.
"Expanding business venues will raise the rent costs of companies," said Huang Lirong, deputy director of the food operation department of the bureau.
To ease pressure on companies, the administration has cancelled the maximum limit on the ratio of food prep and dining areas and allows space for delivery lockers to be counted as dining space, cutting costs for the business.
"The new measure will also benefit businesses that mainly rely on food delivery, as areas for food pick-up can be included as dining space," said Huang.
"Authorities give consideration to changes in residents' eating habits as food delivery is gaining popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.
The notice also allows businesses with food sales licenses to offer catering services if they meet food-making standards and requirements, promoting the merger of traditional retail and dining, the administration said.
This means convenience stores are now able to sell freshly prepared breakfast foods such as buns, fried dough sticks and congee that were once only served by traditional stores.
"This allows businesses to conduct diversified operations and provide more breakfast options for consumers," said Huang.
"We were considering serving omelettes and fried dumplings and the relaxed measures will make it happen," said Shen Jiahong, with Shanghai EGO New Retail Co Ltd, which operates 61 convenience store outlets in Shanghai.
"We can serve hot breakfast meals to consumers instead of cold pre-packaged food," she said.
"The new measures will help businesses improve efficiency in the use of operation venues," said Liu Yeqing, with 24-hour convenience store chain Bianlifeng.
"Some consumers have expressed demand for having congee as breakfast and we will have that demand satisfied thanks to the relaxed policy," she said.
The notice also allows businesses that have obtained licenses to make steamed cakes to expand their business scope to other cooked foods which require boiling, frying and baking.
The previous requirement of one license for each operating venue has also been removed with the latest notice.
Supervision and management will be enhanced to ensure food safety, the notice adds.