Have fast foods been put on hold since the health crisis?
Arrivederci Domino’s Pizza Italy, and probably forever. The famous fast-food brand has announced that it will close its last restaurant in La Botte, seven years after its attempt to found it in 2015. Problem, the health crisis was here, and in the face of numerous restrictions and other lockdowns, local pizza makers have also developed their own take-out system to keep from going out of business.
“We attribute this failure to the significant increase in the level of competition in the food delivery market,” said Domino’s Italian subsidiary in a report to investors in Q4 2021. Marie-Eve Laporte, teacher and researcher at he IAE Paris-Sorbonne and specialist in eating habits, has noticed “the emergence of a new hybrid catering segment between fast food and the traditional table” since the health crisis.
Democratized and extended deliveries
With the explosion of home delivery, Click and Collect, UberEats, and other Deliveroo since that dark spring of 2020, “It’s now possible to have groceries delivered that are considered to be much better quality than fast food. So why give it up? ‘ the expert continues. Before the coronavirus, just a third of French restaurants were delivering, compared to three-quarters now, teacher-researcher notes. Between 2018 and 2020, home food delivery grew by 47% in the country, according to expert firm Food Service Vision: Delivery accounted for 15% of catering sales in 2020 and is expected to weigh 19% by 2024.
“Just like teleworking, the hygiene measures have shown that home delivery was much easier and more accessible than people imagined,” supports Luc Gwiazdzinski, geographer and urban space specialist at Ensa Toulouse. If in people’s minds delivery used to be limited to pizzas and good big KFC chicken tenders, “city dwellers have discovered that you can also order Korean, duck breast, Caesar salad. Urban mobility under two kilometers has changed significantly: It is no longer worth traveling for good food,” says the expert.
Eat healthy and eat at home
The health crisis has also spawned a new trend towards healthy and better nutrition. Of course, since May 2020 and the deconfinement, we have stopped baking our homemade bread, but certain remnants of that time resist: “More attention is being paid to what we eat, notes Marie-Eve Laporte. For example, half of the French are trying to reduce their meat consumption. »
The French in particular are consuming more at home, especially with the advent of teleworking. “Homemade remains one of the most important developments related to the health crisis. We learned again to make time for a whole range of activities, including cooking,” says Jérémie Peltier, Director of Studies at the Jean Jaurès Foundation.
Telework and home catering, which make it possible to “bring your own food, the leftovers from the day before or from the week” on the rare days of face-to-face contact in the office, supports Marie-Pierre Julien, sociologist at the University of Lorraine and specialist in nutritional practices. Food Bowl, which has the same advantages as the local fast food restaurant: fast and efficient food, and therefore replaces it.
Fast food is not dead
Great story, that of the victory of the little Italian chef, who inherited his great-great-grandfather’s wood-fired oven, against the American junk-food capitalist giant… Hop hop, not so fast. Fast food is far from over. McDonald’s sales continued to grow in France in the first quarter of 2022, according to the group, Subway announced in 2021 that it plans to open 200 more restaurants in France by 2025 to grow from 400 to 600, and the tricolor version of KFC made 9% more sales in 2021 compared to 2019, the last year before the health crisis. We’re going to make it even simpler on a global scale: sales of all these brands are increasing.
“Even if fast food affects all social classes, the two main target groups are young people in school or university as well as workers and other craftsmen. These populations are 100% face-to-face again, which ensures that fast-food restaurants don’t lose them,” notes Marie-Pierre Julien. And no matter how much we brag about our homemade Nice salads, “Fast food has a satiety that’s hard to beat for the price and time invested,” continues the expert, and very handy between two classes or a lunch break on the site.
Now and then a little pleasure
Marie-Eve Laporte reminds us that alongside those famous homemade breads, during the first confinement (yes, we’re traumatized), April and May 2020 were marked by endless queues at McDonald’s drive-thru or incessant activity by delivery men bringing back your favorite screamers and nuggets. Jérémie Peltier puts it in poetry: “During confinement bereft of their Madeleine, which the time of a Big Mac offers them a return to childhood, people rejoiced at the return to real life, symbolized by the free return in a McDo.” »
Fast food is strong and also knows how to adapt to trends, the expert continues. Notice how every brand brags about their French-made products, how much salads have become alternatives in every fast food, not to mention the explosion of Pokébowls and other health deliriums that have exploded in recent years and that haven’t Last but not least a different kind of fast food, remembers Marie-Eve Laporte.
Not to mention that while the French are more concerned about what goes on their plate, we haven’t become food puritans either. Jérémie Peltier: “We have to be careful with these judgments, which are sometimes too ‘moral’: fast food also symbolizes the little indulgence that we treat ourselves to after a movie or football game, the extra that children are given after a trip to the cinema, bowling alley, a part of the frivolity and lightness that we see disappearing more and more in a society that is sometimes too serious. So yes, eating Luigi’s homemade Neapolitan pizza, cooked in the ashes of Vesuvius, but a crocodile at Mcdo’s is still a crocodile at Mcdo’s.