Entrepreneurship of “Internet-Popular” (网红)Food Stalls in Shanghai and Related Regulation Updates

Overview on recent media report:

Media press talks about expectations the new regulation on food, which is said to include the supportive terms for street food vending business, from the positive aspect by giving several examples on how the those illegal vendors who sell “Internet-Popular” (网红)food to get the license in the past several years, which in fact does not talk directly about how the process of registration or requirements would be simplified for the vendors but speaks generally on the fact that the regulations is released.

Media Report:

Looking into Shanghai Ayi’s Entrepreneurship – How Street Food in Lanes get the “ID”

走进上海阿姨创业路 “弄堂美食”如何获得合法”身份证”

Source: Wenhui Newspaper (Jiefang Daily Group)


Date: Apr. 8th, 2017

Three Examples of Street Food in Lane which are called “Internet Popular” food:

  1. Grandma Hu’s YouDunZi

Grandma Hu used to be a cook in government canteen and started to be a street food vendor in 2001. She has to do the business for the debt that her son owed. She has been struggling with Chengguan over the years. Since Grandma Hu is 79 years old now, she would like to retire from the business once all the debt is paid back.

  1. Jiang Ayi YouDunZi

https://v.qq.com/x/page/d0178vx70sp.html (Interview by SMG)

Jiang Ayi is a local Shanghainese who has passion for food. She started to do YouDunZi because she wanted to present the authentic flavor to old customers. Jiang Ayi is not a typical street food vendor since she has a shop front.

  1. Ma Ayi Rice Dumpling

Ma Ayi Rice Dumpling has been formalized now. According to the article, Ma Ayi failed to get the license for several times due to various reasons including urban appearance and environment, fire safety issues and neighborhood relationships.

However, the article fails to explain more about the newly released regulation on food, especially on street food vending sector. Overall, though the regulation gives a solution to street food vending by introducing “备案制”, which seems to have a simplified process and requirements for registration but in fact some people argues that it is a more strict way to regulate street food vendors:


When the regulation is discussed during the 14th Shanghai People’s Congress, the 5th meeting, many delegates comment on “Street Food in Lanes”. On one hand, there are citizens’ demands for food, and on the other hand, once the stands are banned, the owners can’t make a living. “We need an innovative resolution on regulation to give the street food vending some space,” said a delegate called Xu Liping. She hopes that Shanghai government could create a regulation method that regulate different business in different categories and levels when reducing or slowing down the growth of the amount of street food vending business.


Now the regulation gives a new way: for those small food business places which could not get the license but could meet the food safety requirement and have no influence on neighborhood, local government can register them temporarily and give them a public information card for temporary permission on business.


After the regulation put into practice, local market supervision, environment, housing management, fire safety and Chengguan department should regulate small food business accordingly. “We need to regulate more strictly in and after the process, the regulation standard on those small business should be the same as on the licensed,” said the header of FDA, Yan Zuqiang. In fact, the policy has been experimented with A Da Fried Scallion Pancake. The environment of the new pancake stand has been improved a lot after its reopen with the help with regulatory department in Huangpu District.


“Even though the business follows regulations and laws, the current registration system is not a permeant solution,” said Yan Zuqiang. He is thinking about modifying the regulation in detail and set limit on years – each business can re-apply once after the temporary permission expires. After the re-application, the owner should either apply for the license or quit the market. “‘Internet-Popular’ Food should not always be in version 1.0. Hopefully we can bring out more upgraded business models with local characteristics.”


From the media report, we can see that the current registration plan for small food vending business owners is a method which gives these owners more time to prepare for the legal license. The ultimate goal of the government is to formalize those business.

Other government actions also indicate that they are trying to pushing the formalization of those food vending business. For example, the regulatory department enforce the new regulation to the illegal small food business immediately on the first when the new regulation is in practice.


The First of New Regulation on Food Safety: Look Strictly on Illegal Food Vendors and Restaurants with Borrowed Licenses

Source: Xinhuanet.com


Date: Mar. 20th, 2017


Mar. 20th is the first day for the “Shanghai Food Safety Regulations” to be in practice formally. On that day, the journalist went with FDA and market regulators to see law-enforcement departments to check the situation of illegal stands and online ordering.


In the old city area in Huangpu, the law-enforcement group figured out several illegal small food businesses. In the past decades, many small food businesses were playing “hide-and -see” with law-enforcement people. When the regulators come, they close the door. Some of them re-open immediately after being fined. At No. 129 South Guangqi Road, the regulators found an illegal fast food place, which was hard to discover. The make the pipes for lampblack along the wall, which disturbs the neighborhood and brings risk of fire safety issues.


Law-enforcement team regulated some restaurants without licenses, pushed down the illegal construction and turned the building into the original appearance. Zhu Liang, the Vice Director of market regulation department in Huangpu. The law-enforcement is led by street-level government, market regulation department. Many departments cooperate together. From single department to multiple departments, the goal is to prevent illegal food business from recovering.


On one side, the government need to regulate the illegal food business to reduce food safety risks; on the other side, for those food business that meet the food safety standards, the new regulation gives them the chance to register at street-level government.


In all, government’s attitude towards street food vending and small food vending business is not as clear as stated in the new regulation. It seems that the new regulation gives more space to those business, but it depends on how the regulatory department practices. Government tend to offer better resource or opportunity for popular food stands or vendors since the public opinion matters, but for those who are not famous, it could be a worse period now.

Some more short videos about street food:

A Da Fried Scallion Pancake – https://v.qq.com/x/page/c0153z6v49u.html

Jiang San Stinky Tofu –  https://v.qq.com/x/page/q0180n9rt70.html

A Qiao Wonton – https://v.qq.com/x/page/v0173a2tatj.html