Growing middle class, SARS fears, drive pizza delivery in China

June 1, 2003

BEIJING -- The rise of pizza delivery in China, just as it happened in the U.S., is a middle class phenomenon -- but in a communist country whose middle class is only now taking shape.

According to the Chicago Tribune, middle-class Chinese enjoy the convenience of pizza delivery because it relieves them of cooking daily, plus it's become a way to avoid exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Domino's Pizza and Pizza Hut report that delivery orders have increased about 10 percent since the disease's outbreak.

The Tribune piece also said younger Chinese, not their elders, consume the most pizza. Connie Liu, 26, a senior corporate manager for a software company, said she doesn't have time to cook, and orders Domino's twice a month. She also goes to restaurants and orders takeout food, part of daily life that's foreign to her parents.

"My parents cook at home most of the time," she said. "They think using a delivery service or eating out is too luxurious."

Liu said her parents don't like pizza, either.

"I think there is a generation gap," she said. "Their stomachs are typically Chinese."

From the operational side, however, pizza delivery isn't the same in China as in the U.S. Customers don't tip delivery persons, and some companies, such as Pizza Hut, don't deliver at all. Delivery orders are sent via taxicab, and the operator and customer share the fee.

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