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China corruption crackdown hits catering sector: state media

A woman walks past electric bikes sitting outside a McDonalds fast-food outlet in central Beijing March 20, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray
A woman walks past electric bikes sitting outside a McDonalds fast-food outlet in central Beijing March 20, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's catering sector grew at its slowest pace in more than two decades in 2013 as diners avoided splashing out in luxury restaurants during an anti-corruption campaign targeting official excess, according to state media.

Catering in China grew nine percent last year, the weakest growth in 21 years, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Saturday, citing the China Cuisine Association. It did not give the growth pace for earlier years.

Restaurant earnings totaled 2.54 trillion yuan ($419 billion) in 2013. Among those stomaching the biggest hit were high-end establishments, which reported annual revenue lower than in 2012, Xinhua said.

China's slowing economy has also dealt a blow to the catering industry, as cost-conscious diners go for cheaper spots with healthy, local food over multi-nationals like McDonald's Corp and Yum! Brands Inc which have also been hit by food-safety scandals.

Companies dealing in pricey liquors, expensive cigarettes and luxury hotels are among those hit by the Chinese government's anti-corruption campaign.

The crackdown has been led by President Xi Jinping as he looks to rejuvenate the Communist Party's image, marred by years of scandals and open displays of ill-gotten wealth.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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