Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Sales generated by Taiwan’s food and beverage sector fell for a second year in a row in 2021, hurt by restrictions imposed during a COVID-19 outbreak in mid-May that limited consumption, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Monday.
Data released by the MOEA showed revenue posted by the local food and beverage sector fell 6.4 percent from 2020 to NT$728 billion (US$26.28 billion), after falling 4.2 percent in 2020 compared with 2019.
Sales raked in by restaurants, beverage stores and catering services fell 6.2 percent, 5.5 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to NT$609.4 billion, NT$92.4 billion and NT$26.1 billion in 2021, the MOEA said.
Huang Wei-chieh (黃偉傑), deputy director of the MOEA’s Department of Statistics, said the sales slump among restaurants and food stalls came largely because of the Level 3 alert imposed by the Central Epidemic Command Center in May.
Under the Level 3 alert, on-site dining was prohibited, which resulted in plunging sales that could not be offset by food vendors’ efforts to boost their takeout services.
The dine-in service restrictions were eased starting in late July, and customers gradually returned in the following months, but the loss in sales could not be overcome for the year as a whole despite a rally at the end of the year.
In December, food and beverage sector sales rose 7.1 percent from a year earlier to NT$77.0 billion, the second highest monthly level on record after hitting NT$82.8 billion in January 2020.
Huang said the strong showing in December came as people got together to eat out during the Christmas, and food vendors launched new restaurant brands to boost interest among consumers.
At the start of 2022, Huang said a small surge in domestically transmitted COVID-19 in January has led many companies to cancel their year-end dinners.
But sales should rise by 8.5-11.5 percent in January from a year earlier because on-site dining is still allowed as the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts Jan. 29, approaches, Huang said.
Meanwhile, retail sales in Taiwan hit a new high of NT$3.99 trillion in 2021, up 3.3 percent from a year earlier.
Huang said the gains were largely driven by consumer purchases of food in supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores to cook at home because of the Level 3 alert, and higher demand for notebook computers and other devices needed for online learning and remote work needs.
Wholesale sales for 2021 also hit a new high of NT$12.16 trillion, up 15.8 percent from a year earlier, as strong demand for emerging technologies such as 5G applications and Internet connectivity pushed up prices for semiconductors and raw materials, boosting sales value, the MOEA said.
Huang said retail sales are expected to grow 0.5-3.5 percent in January, and wholesale sales are estimated to grow 8.3-11.3 percent in the month.
(By Liang Pei-chi and Frances Huang)
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