Shaxian Delicacies retains old flavor with automation
Chopped pork, carrots and other fillings are stirred and garnished with various seasoning sauces before they are wrapped with rolled dough, taking the shape of dumplings — one of the most iconic Chinese cuisines — at a fully automated production line in Shaxian County in southeast China’s Fujian Province.
After passing through quick freezing devices and automatic packaging, the dumplings will roll off the line, ready to be distributed from the “central kitchen” to franchisees of Shaxian Delicacies in the country.
Originating from the small county with a population of about 230,000, Shaxian Delicacies have swept across the streets of China since the 1980s, with locals traveling afar setting up family-run outlets.
According to the local government, currently Shaxian Delicacies has 88,000 eateries worldwide with more than 300,000 employees, generating a yearly turnover of nearly 50 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion).
Peanut butter noodles, wontons filled with juicy meat, fried rice noodles, meat soup ... With great varieties, widely acclaimed flavors and reasonable prices, Shaxian Delicacies, the Chinese fast food chain, has gained great popularity and emerged as one of the county’s pillar industries.
Over the past 20 years, Shaxian County has drawn up more than 40 documents to promote the snack industry, granted 532 million yuan in loans for start-ups and provided more than 23,000 sessions of free training courses in management and production skills.
Facing fierce competition from emerging national food chains in recent years, Shaxian has been working on rounding up the scattered family-run eateries under a unified brand and set of standards.
“The traditional husband and wife eatery no longer fits consumer needs,” said Yang Xingzhong, Party secretary of Shaxian County.
Besides the unified red logo akin to Pac-Man, the “central kitchen” has been established for automatic production of semi-finished products, distributing around 40 tons of goods every day to eateries of Shaxian Delicacies via cold chains.
“The unified production and distribution have freed people engaged in the industry from heavy labor,” said Zhang Xin, deputy director of the Shaxian snack industry development center. “Owners of the eateries used to spend hours buying vegetables, processing and preparing the dishes, which is time-consuming,” Zhang said. “Getting up at five or six in the morning after crashing on the bed in the wee hours was once a norm for them.”
“About half of the dishes could be made from the semi-finished products now, slashing the operating time by about 30 percent and significantly reducing the costs,” Zhang added.
In the process of industrial upgrading, Shaxian County is committed to preserving the “old taste” of Shaxian Delicacies.
Sanming Shayang Food Co gave up the efficient electric mill and used the motor-driven stone mill in peanut butter production. “We hope to preserve the traditional flavor, which is the soul of the snack industry,” said Deng Huizhen, general manager of the company.
Big data management is another area that Shaxian Delicacies is exploring. “More than 1,600 eateries of Shaxian Delicacies have put their data on a digital information platform, where data related to take-out, cash flow, procurement and other areas in the supply chain could be checked,” Zhang said.