Get up and get out: Urbanites in Vietnam love eating out for breakfast

By VnExpress   November 12, 2016 | 04:09 pm GMT+7
Get up and get out: Urbanites in Vietnam love eating out for breakfast
At a restaurant in Hanoi. Eating out has become a common trend in Vietnamese major cities. Photo by VnExpress/Xavier Bourgois

And they hardly care about food-related health issues, a new survey has found.

Eating out has become a common trend in Vietnamese major cities, where many people go out for breakfast and not many care about health issues, according to a new survey.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Decision Lab estimated that there were 340 million visits for out-of-home eating and drinking in Da Nang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s biggest cities between April and June. The survey interviewed 4,325 people above 15 years old for the quarter.

Breakfast alone accounted for 118 million visits, while there were only 98 million visits for lunch and 37 million for dinner, according to the survey, which also tracks visits for morning snack, afternoon snack and late-night snack.

Many people are loyal: 75 percent said they visited the same breakfast outlet three to seven times a week.

Men between 15 and 35 years old are the biggest group of people eating out.

One concerning finding from the study is that when it comes to eating out, health does not play a significant role.

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Only 5 percent of the respondents choose a restaurant because of health while 50 percent make the decision out of convenience and 45 percent for indulgence.

At many outlets, diners ignore glaring health risks that plague the whole process, from how ingredients are farmed and sourced to how meals are cooked and served.

In recent years, it’s become increasingly common to hear about cases of unscrupulous food sellers in Vietnam using banned chemicals in meat or excessive concentrations of pesticide in vegetables to increase or maintain the food’s appeal to consumers.

In 2015, the country recorded 171 food poisoning cases with nearly 5,000 victims. An inspection by the National Institute for Food Control found a third of vegetable samples had excessive levels of pesticides, and 455 of 735 samples of meat products were unsafe for consumption.

Decision Lab's survey found that even when all the ingredients are clean and fine, the little amount of vegetables each person has when eating out is another issue.

An average plate for a Vietnamese adult when eating out only contains 14 percent vegetables. The proportion is even less on a child’s plate – 9 percent, according to the survey.

It also reaffirmed that beer is the most popular drink among Vietnamese adults, and men consume most of that.

Data show that over the past five years, Vietnam has doubled its beer consumption to more than 3 billion liters per year. Each Vietnamese person drinks 27.4 liters on average, making them the heaviest beer drinkers in Southeast Asia, the third in Asia after Japan and China, and in the world’s top 25 heaviest beer drinkers.

According to Decision Lab, Asian restaurants now dominate the dining trend, by hosting 53 percent of all out-dining visits. Western outlets now account for 7 percent of the visits and the rest are at coffee/tea shops, bakery, canteen, convenience store and others.

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