Coronavirus: Interest in Chinese food drops by a third internationally - study

Many Chinese restaurants around the globe that are normally very busy are reportedly nearly empty. as the coronavirus outbreak causes chaos.
Many Chinese restaurants around the globe that are normally very busy are reportedly nearly empty. Photo credit: Getty

The world's interest in Chinese and Italian cuisine has taken a major hit due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, according to a new study.

The research by Chef's Pencil used Google Trends data to calculate global interest in Chinese food dropped by 33 percent and in Italian food by 24 percent in the first week of March when compared to January.

Specifically in New Zealand, the data shows interest in Chinese cuisine has dropped by 37 percent. 

Research by Chef's Pencil used Google Trends data to calculate global interest in Chinese food dropped by 33 percent and in Italian food by 24 percent in the first week of March when compared to January, 2020.
Photo credit: Chef's Pencil

"This means far fewer people are searching for Chinese restaurants, Chinese takeaways or for Chinese foods that can be bought in grocery shops," writes Caroline Williams for Chef's Pencil.

"Fewer people, especially in the UK, France and Spain, are searching locally for Italian restaurants and Italian foods. Google Trends data is usually well linked to consumer purchasing decisions, so it may mean slower business for local Italian restaurants and shops selling Italian produce."

Chef's Pencil has calculated how much global interest in Chinese and Italian food has dropped during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
Photo credit: Chef's Pencil

In New Zealand, there has been such a drop in business in the hospitality sector that restaurants have called for help from the Government.

Yum cha restaurants in Auckland are said to have been hit particularly hard, with Hees Garden Seafood Restaurant announcing a temporary closure in February in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Aotearoa's cautiousness pales in comparison to Japan's, however. According to the Chef's Pencil study, Italian and Chinese cuisine both saw a 96 percent drop in interest in Japan between January and March.

Of course, simply eating food of a Chinese, Italian, Iranian or Korean origin won't increase or decrease your chances of catching coronavirus.

Reactions to the outbreak have included increased reports of racist abuse and panic-buying of items like toilet paper.

"The good news is it won't last, according to psychologist Katharina Wittgens. History tells us these 'panics usually decline after a month when people have had time to think more rationally'," writes Caroline Williams for Chef's Pencil.

"So Ying's Takee Outee can take some comfort from knowing they just have to weather the storm - the customers will be back. But the sudden shift in the data we spotted at Chef’s Pencil will be forever known as the coronavirus blip." 

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