Chongqing - Chongqing was recently invited to participate in the Wuhan 11th China Ingredient E-commerce Festival. During this event, approximately 200,000 attendees had the chance to savor the famous Chongqing Hot Pot. Furthermore, 41 hot pot enterprises from Chongqing secured contracts worth RMB 56.38 million (US$ 8.1 million) on the spot.
Following this, Chongqing began receiving a steady stream of invitations from both domestic and international cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Rome, and Paris.
This raises the question: why has Chongqing's traditional hot pot suddenly gained widespread popularity? And more importantly, how can hot pot businesses from Chongqing leverage this opportunity for further growth and development?
Why has Chongqing Hot Pot become popular both domestically and internationally?
"The popularity of Chongqing Hot Pot can be attributed to its delectable taste, rich cultural background, and prominence," said Wenyu Lin, an expert on Chongqing's food culture and executive editor of Chongqing in Hot Pot. "Chongqing is recognized as the birthplace of spicy hot pot in China, so whenever people think of hot pot, Chongqing Hot Pot naturally comes to mind."
Chen Guohua, Chairman of the Chongqing Hot Pot Association, further highlights the widespread fame of Chongqing Hot Pot in China. With over 16,000 hot pot enterprises and over 30,000 hot pot restaurants in Chongqing alone, the city boasts the highest density of hot pot establishments among Chinese cities, rightfully earning the City of Hot Pot title.
Out of the 700,000 hot pot restaurants in China, 200,000 serve Chongqing Hot Pot, accounting for nearly a third of the market share. Additionally, Chongqing Hot Pot soup bases have become increasingly popular. Chen Guohua notes that in 2022, the entire Chongqing Hot Pot industry generated over 400 billion RMB in revenue, with the hot pot soup base sector alone contributing more than 200 billion RMB.
The enduring appeal of Chongqing Hot Pot lies in its constant innovation. For instance, the two-flavor hot pot caters to a wide range of preferences, from young to old, and even those who dislike spicy food. Hot pot restaurants, ranging from humble roadside stands to luxurious seafood establishments, satisfy various customer needs.
In the internet era, numerous hot pot restaurants have gained online fame by offering unique experiences, such as combining hot pot with night markets or pairing it with dessert.
Despite its rich history and cultural depth, which have earned Chongqing Hot Pot a sterling global reputation, there are still challenges to be addressed.
Firstly, there has yet to be a Chongqing hot pot company that has gone public. Secondly, while some Chongqing Hot Pot enterprises, such as Dezhuang, Liuyishou, and Little Swan, have established restaurants in foreign countries quite early on, their total reach remains limited. To date, fewer than 135 hot pot restaurants spanning over 20 countries and regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Chen Guohua emphasized that Chongqing Hot Pot serves as a business card for Chongqing. Municipal departments such as the Municipal Commission of Commerce have undertaken various efforts to promote Chongqing Hot Pot. For instance, they have held the Chongqing Hot Pot Festival for 15 consecutive years and have supported local enterprises in their overseas expansion efforts. As the government aims to establish Chongqing as one of the premier international consumption centers, the Chongqing Hot Pot industry is keen to seize this opportunity. The focus is on fostering high-quality, renowned products, restaurants, businesses, streets, and towns.
"If these enterprises seize this opportunity, the Chongqing Hot Pot industry will make significant strides forward," Guohua Chen stated. Given the limited market size within Chongqing itself, Chongqing Hot Pot enterprises need to expand overseas for further growth. Therefore, in response to invitations from various cities, the Chongqing Hot Pot Association is ready to encourage and coordinate with related enterprises to participate in exhibitions.
(Yang Yuanchun, as an intern, also contributed to the report.)
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