Ready-to-eat meals trending as Chinese stay put for Chinese New Year

CHANGCHUN (XINHUA) – Partially-prepared and ready-to-eat meals are gaining popularity as most Chinese plan to stay put during the Chinese New Year, a holiday traditionally centred around family gatherings, to reduce the movement of people and kerb the spread of the epidemic.

This will be the first time Zhang Han, a native of southern China’s Guangdong Province, celebrates the Chinese New Year away from home. “I was a little upset that I would not have a decent dinner on the eve of the Chinese New Year,” said the 26-year-old, who works in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province. “Then I learnt many friends purchased partially-prepared food, so I also ordered a six-course New Year’s Eve dinner combo featuring Cantonese cuisine on an e-commerce platform. The dinner includes a salt-roasted chicken and a steamed seabass.” The young man plans to feast on it with his roommates.

Prices of the combos on major e-commerce channels range from 200 yuan (S$41) to thousands of yuan, with the monthly sales of some products already exceeding 10,000. A cookbook or even videos are provided with each dish, helping every customer become a “skilled chef.”

“Partially-prepared meals for the eve of Chinese New Year appeared several years ago, but their sales soared significantly this year, with the young generation being the main customers,” said a seller.

“Many people want to have a taste of their hometown despite being far away, but the complicated cooking steps often deter them. The set meal, therefore, is the best choice.” Such products are also well received offline.

Many purchase these products and bring them home to cook, and parents buy and send them to their children.

“Staying put to celebrate Chinese New Year can still be wonderful since we’ve got so many choices,” said Zhang.

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