China, with a population approaching 1.3bn, is undergoing a foodservice revolution, according to a new report.

The expanding middle-class is developing a taste for fastfood and quick service restaurants, a preliminary study from BIS Shrapnel indicates. Senior foodservice consultant Dr Sandro Mangosi comments: "The catering sector is expanding rapidly and China's recent World Trade Organisation membership and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will attract even more players and more customers. China has the potential to become the world's largest foodservice market."

In 2000 the catering sector fastfood and quick service restaurants, cafes, chain restaurants, canteens and other eateries generated more than US$50bn in total revenue, compared to $38bn in 1998.

For comparative purposes the foodservice market in Australia is estimated to have a total value, at retail prices, of $13.5bn. About 31% of Australian food expenditure is spent at foodservice outlets.

The results of the study, Foodservice in China 2002-2004, will be released early next year. It is based on more than 600 trade interviews and interviews with key players conducted by senior BIS Shrapnel consultants. Its major objective is to provide reliable quantitative and qualitative information on a sector that has been expanding rapidly since the entry of the first two international food chains, KFC and McDonald's, in 1987.

China's economy has been one of the fastest growing in the world over the past decade, and is expected to continue to grow at more than 7% a year for the next ten years, fuelled by a catch-up in domestic demand.