(Bloomberg) — As Beijing relaxes Covid curbs and allows indoor dining again, restaurants are betting that customers will be back in droves, boosting demand for everything from meat to cooking oils.
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Hotpot restaurants are among those expecting long lines of diners as soupy food is not a convenient takeout option. Beijing’s Pengran Siji Catering, which specializes in coconut chicken hotpot, expects traffic to bounce back to normal levels this weekend.
“Our six restaurants across Beijing served 447 orders Monday, about 70% of our previous normal daily flow,” said Zhu Jianguo, operations director of the hotpot chain operator.
In the past month when Beijing eateries were restricted to takeout and delivery, Zhu said the restaurant’s purchases of chicken, vegetables and cooking oil slumped to half of normal levels. It now plans to stock up on those food items as diners return.
The Chinese capital imposed tight movement controls in early May to contain a Covid-19 outbreak, halting dining-in at restaurants and shuttering gyms and cinemas. That followed a lockdown in Shanghai that lasted a few months. The restrictions weighed heavily on China’s edible oil and meat demand, sending imports of vegetable oils plunging to a 2015 low.
With virus curbs largely loosened this week, domestic consumption is poised to recover. Bloomberg Intelligence said Chinese food-service operators may get their shot at reviving sales in June as lockdowns ease.
Fiume, an Italian restaurant in Beijing, said it usually sees an increase in business during the summer. It tends to purchase as much as 30% more meat, cooking oil and other foodstuffs during this period. “As long as dine-in services are allowed, it’s a good time for us,” said Yuan Yuan, co-founder of Fiume.
(Updates with comments from an Italian restaurant in final paragraph)
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