Dining out increasing household consumption trend in Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) More and more people in Taiwan do not spend time in the kitchen but eat at foodstalls and restaurants, according to the latest government data on household expenditure indicating that spending in restaurants and hotels rose to a historic high in 2017.Such spending accounted for 12 percent of all household expenditure last year, the highest since 1976, when spending in restaurants and hotels was a mere 2.48 percent, statistics released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) in August show.The 12 percent represents about NT$97,000 (US$3,158) in terms of the average sum spent by every household in restaurants and hotels last year, according to DGBAS officials.In 2017, each household in the country spent an average NT$812,000 annually, most of which went on housing, electricity, water, gas and other fuels, accounting for 23.9 percent of the total, the statistics show.Expenditure in food, beverages and tobacco was the second-highest at 15.6 percent, followed by healthcare at 15.25 percent, transport and communication at 12.87 percent, and recreation, culture and education at 9.55 percent.Other expenditures were also seen in miscellaneous goods and services at 5.42 percent, clothing and footwear at 2.87 percent, and furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance at 2.55 percent, the tallies show.Notably, the 15.6 percent expenditure in food, beverages and tobacco marked the lowest since 42.27 percent in 1976.DGBAS officials said that although there are no separate figures on expenditure in restaurants alone, the decline in the category of food, beverages and tobacco suggests changes in the dining and drinking habits of Taiwanese people over the past four decades.While more and more people joined the workforce, their lives underwent change, with people spending longer in the workplace than at home, the officials said, so "naturally the option to dine out became bigger."One 29-year-old woman who lives in New Taipei told CNA that she and her newly wed husband are both company employees. She cooks every weekend and squeezes in time every two or three working days to prepare themselves a dinner or lunchboxes for the following day.However, when they dine out, the money they spend on a meal normally covers the cost of cooking two meals at home, she said, but with long working hours, she cannot cook every day after work.The rising expenditure in restaurants and hotels is also reflected in the consumer price index figures, which indicate a 2.31 percent year-on-year growth in the dining-out cost in July, the highest in 39 months, said DGBAS specialist Hsu Chieh-chung.