GUANGZHOU, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Traditionally, dishes were made from ingredients bought locally for the Lunar New Year reunion dinner, one of the most important meals of the year for Chinese. The Internet, however, has changed this.
Thanks to e-commerce and more disposal income, people have developed an appetite for food from further afield, transforming their dinner tables in the process.
Nowadays, in addition to the traditional dishes of fish, rice cakes and dumplings, families are using online market places to buy exotic delicacies from all over the world.
Wang Zhichao, a Beijing-based foreign enterprise employee, purchased steak from Australia, salmon from Norway and king crab from Alaska on the Internet for his family's dinner.
"In the past, the older generation of my family bought meat and vegetables from the nearby markets. This year, I want them to try something different," said Wang.
Shopping is an indispensable part of Spring Festival celebrations for Chinese.
Data from tmall.hk, an online marketplace and a subsidiary of Alibaba, shows that its sales during its Spring Festival promotional campaign increased by 38 percent this year over the previous year. Food, cosmetics and baby products were the most popular items.
The growing demand for global products has also caused an increase in air traffic. China Southern Airlines have transported more than 13,000 tonnes of overseas cargo to China during the first month of this year, up 5 percent from one year earlier, according to statistics provided by the airline's cargo department.
"Spring Festival has given us the opportunity to explore cross-border fresh food transport. Our first shipment was Australian cherries, and in the future we will carry Australian mangos, chilled meat and seafood," said Wang Ran, a marketing manager of the department.
She said that these foods will be distributed from Guangzhou to other cities across China.
Zhou Jianping, director of rural e-commerce under Guangdong Province E-commerce Association, said the proportion of overseas products has risen over the past five years, which shows consumption habits are changing.
Consumption habits may be changing, but for people like Wang Zhichao, the annual family dinner is still about the same thing it has always been about, "The cost is not my main concern," he said, "what I care about most is enjoying time with my family."
The annual reunion dinner is usually eaten on the eve of the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 28 this year.