France may pride itself on fine cuisine, but it is facing a culinary coup d'etat: Fast food chains have for the first time dethroned traditional sit-down restaurants as the top earners in France’s dining market, according to a recent survey.
Hamburgers, pizzas, hotdogs and other fast foods have swiped 54
percent of the overall market share, accounting for €34 billion in
sales in the sector in 2012. A year ago, that number was only 40
"In previous years, we could see fast food was gaining ground,
but this is the first time it has overtaken restaurants where you
are served at the table," said Julien Jeanneau of French food
consulting firm Gira Conseil, which conducted the survey into
France’s eating habits published on Thursday.
"Despite a slowdown and unfavorable economic optimism, the
market for fast food is still well in 2012," said the
The past year turned out to be especially successful for fast
food giants like McDonald’s – as France became the chain’s
second-largest market in the world after the US – or its local
rival Quick. The two saw their sales increase by 4 and 5 percent,
While the fast food giants had dollar signs in their eyes,
restaurants traditionally serving three-course lunches have been
hit hard by seismic changes to France’s eating habits, experts
explained, as French purchasing power has declined. The French now
tend to buy cheaper food and save money by not going to restaurants
Sales of sandwiches in France rose by 6 percent in 2012,
reaching more than €7 billion in the past 12 months alone; France
consumed a total of 2.105 billion sandwiches last year. The report
also revealed the French are the second-biggest consumers of pizza
in the world, after the US.
One of the explanations for the new trend is a change in office
culture, experts from Gira Conseil explained. Fast food chains are
more likely to meet demand, as they not only cook quicker, but also
deliver their food. French employees are also increasingly
ordering takeout for the workplace.
"What works is to go where the consumer needs it," Gira Conseil
Director Bernard Boutboul said.
The survey found out that the average time spent eating a meal
in France has dropped from 1 hour and 20 minutes in 1975 to 30
minutes today. This is also cited as one of the reasons why the
French culture of restaurants and lunches with wine is losing its
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