Chinese food delivery firms cash in as fans stay up late to watch World Cup

Companies are seeing a surge in evening orders – with crayfish and beer the favourites, along with healthier choices like fruit, yogurt and fish soup

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 10:00pm

Restaurants and food delivery companies have seen a surge in late-night business as World Cup fever takes hold in soccer-mad China, where most of the matches in host country Russia happen in the evenings local time.

Fans staying up late to catch the action are indulging in summer favourites such as barbecued meat, crayfish and beer, as well as healthier choices like fruit, yogurt and fish soup, The Beijing Daily reported on Tuesday.

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Food delivery company Ele.me said that for each of the first four matches in the tournament that began on Thursday, its customers ordered an average total of 3.05 million crayfish and 400,000 bottles of beer.

And for the first two nights of the World Cup, orders placed between 9pm and 2am were triple the number made at the same time last year, the company said.

Its rival Meituan Dianping meanwhile said it delivered 280,000 bottles of beer and 1.53 million crayfish between 9pm and 12am on the first night of the tournament. It also saw a 55 per cent rise in orders for stew and soup in that period, compared with average evenings.

Fifteen minutes before the World Cup kicked off, orders jumped by 40 per cent from the same time the day before, Meituan said.

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But some fans went for lighter options, with food firms selling fresh produce such as MissFresh and Hema Fresh saying evening orders for fruit and yogurt had spiked, according to The Beijing Daily.

All of the companies are offering a 24-hour delivery service during the World Cup, which runs until mid-July.

Food delivery app Ele.me and supermarket chain Hema Fresh are both under Alibaba Group Holdings, which owns the South China Morning Post.

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Restaurants, bars and cafes are also cashing in during the tournament – offering specials like crayfish and beer deals to bring in soccer fans. But most importantly, they need to show the matches.

“We’ll lose customers if we don’t have the soccer on a big screen during the World Cup,” the owner of a restaurant with a dedicated area for fans in Zhengzhou, in the central province of Henan, told Dahe Daily.

In the Sichuan capital Chengdu, a hotpot restaurant has also set up a place for diners to watch the soccer.

“We’re broadcasting all of the World Cup matches,” the owner told West China City News. “We only close when the last game of the day is over.”