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Decision Lab: Vietnamese prefer Japanese, BBQ, and hotpot to fast food

Released at: 16:11, 27/12/2018

Decision Lab: Vietnamese prefer Japanese, BBQ, and hotpot to fast food

Photo: Viet Tuan (VET)

Local diners put down burgers and pizza and take to Japanese, BBQ and hotpot.

by Khanh Chi

There’s been a shift in the way Vietnamese spend their money when it comes to eating out. The “Vietnam Foodservice Industry 2018” report from Decision Lab reveals that growth in visitor traffic to Western restaurants plummeted 61 per cent in the four quarters to the third quarter of 2018, and that the fast food segment as a whole suffered a drop of 17 per cent. Stepping in to fill the gap have been three increasingly familiar faces: Japanese, BBQ, and hotpot.

While Vietnamese food still dominates the out-of-home dining market in Vietnam, over the last 12 months diners looking for something different have increasingly turned away from Western options in favor of Asian flavors, and what it really comes down to is experience.

There’s no doubt that Vietnamese food occupies a special place in the hearts of Vietnamese, Mr. Tran Minh Hoang, Consultant at Decision Lab, noted. Its diversity, affordability, and ready availability means it currently accounts for up to 80 per cent of all out-of-home dining experiences in Vietnam, according to the report.

That said, the impact of new cuisine on Vietnam’s food and beverage market shouldn’t be discounted. In the past year alone more than 15 new franchise concepts have entered the country, from Japanese cheese tarts to Cantonese desserts and Singaporean seafood.

In addition, existing chains specializing in non-Vietnamese options have expanded their presence, with Golden Gate Group and Redsun-ITI setting the pace.

In the past 12 months, while the growth in popularity of fast food and Western outlets has been on the decline, the big winners have been Japanese, BBQ, and hotpot locations, where year-on-year visitor traffic growth has increased 49 per cent, 46 per cent, and 37 per cent, respectively. Notably, it’s also been these three cuisines that have commanded the highest average spend per visit in the market.

What the decline in traffic growth to both fast food and Western-centric quick and full service restaurants has meant is that cuisines with either a more familiar flavor profile, namely BBQ and hotpot, or a strong association with quality, for example Japanese food, have found room to thrive.

While it should be noted that fast food still occupies the top spot when it comes to market share of non-Vietnamese cuisine (39 per cent), clearly Vietnamese tastes are shifting away from what might previously have been Western curiosities, like burgers and pizza, for example, and back towards a more Asian-centric, high-quality offering.

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