Here are six top tips to help you capitalise on the opportunity of Chinese New Year, which in 2019 falls on February 5.

 

Falling between two big events for pubs – the Gregorian New Year and Valentine's Day - the Chinese New Year is a great excuse to get punters down the pub to try something new, during a traditionally quiet period for the trade after Christmas.

Next year will be the Year of the Pig and Chinese sauce brand, Lee Kum Kee, offers this advice for licensees wanting to capitalise on the opportunity.

 

 

1) Stock the right ingredients


Stocking and promoting the right ingredients is a key factor in maximising sales over the Chinese New Year period.

Have classic dishes such as:

• Stir fry soy noodles and mushrooms in oyster sauce
• Kung pao chicken
• Broccoli beef
• Fusion dishes


2) Story-telling to engage punters:


Celebrity chef and Chinese food guru, Ken Hom, said: "In Chinese tradition many food items are associated with a certain wisdom or have a special symbolic meaning. For Chinese New Year - fish, chicken, tofu and noodles are some of the must-have items for a traditional family gathering.

"For example, eating a whole chicken with family members means 'a united front'."

Ken also said that tofu is associated with happiness and eating noodles on New Years' Day means good health and longevity in life.

He said: "It is also tradition to braise mushrooms and lettuce in oyster sauce during Chinese New Year for a year of fortune ahead."


3) Education

 

Usage of Chinese sauces is still fairly unfamiliar to the majority, according to Lee Kum Kee, with more education needed to help the trade get the best out of the sauces.

For example:

• Sesame oil is great for dressing, but doesn't hold up well as a deep frying oil as the temperature tolerance is fairly low – like olive oil.
• Dark soy sauce is not meant for seasoning, and is mainly used for colouring.
• Meat used in stir-fries can be pre-marinated in oyster sauce making it flavoursome.


4) Be authentic

 

It is important for pubs to understand the local Chinese tastes while adapting it to the British palate at the same time.

Use products that provide chefs with the classic Chinese flavours, while offering the freedom and creativity to adjust the taste with other ingredients and develop their preferred flavour profile, the company says.

 

5) Timing

 

The Chinese New Year celebration is more than just a day. The Chinese community usually starts celebrating two weeks ahead. The celebration can last for another two weeks after 5 February, 2019.

Therefore, promotion or special menu offers should last for a month.

The Chinese New Year gathering is all about banqueting and food sharing, so instead of a la carte choices, a tasting menu could be offered, allowing people to try Chinese dishes they might not have experienced.

 

6) Expand oriental free-from options

 

People are looking for a broader array of meat-free and gluten-free menu options, and Chinese New Year should be no different.

The global gluten-free products market was valued at £11.58 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow by 9.3% from 2017 to 2025.

 

Tap into the buzz

 

Maria Chong, managing director of Lee Kum Kee Europe, said: "There's a real buzz around Chinese food at the moment and Chinese New Year is such a big opportunity for foodservice operatives who should be capitalising on this and maximising their sales with creative menu options, fusion flavours and most importantly traditional, quality ingredients."

The firm has invested in a campaign with chefs Ken Hom and Gizzi Erskine to drive awareness and its sauces.

Maria said: "It's key we inspire consumers and showcase the history, versatility and authenticity of Chinese food.

"Ken Hom has been helping Western consumers to cook Chinese food for decades and Gizzi Erskine uses travel inspiration from Asia to create innovative fusion recipes."