Have fast foods skated since the health crisis?

Arrivederci Domino’s Pizza Italy, and probably forever. The famous fast-food brand has announced that it is closing its last restaurant in La Botte, seven years after its attempt to set up in 2015. To win against local competition, the giant was betting on its ultra-fast home delivery system. structure. Problem, the health crisis has been there, and faced with numerous confinements and other curfews, local pizza makers have also developed their own take-out system so as not to go out of business.

“We attribute this failure to the significant increase in the level of competition in the food delivery market”, declared the Italian subsidiary of Domino in a report to investors in the fourth quarter of 2021. Marie-Eve Laporte, teacher-researcher at the he IAE Paris-Sorbonne and specialist in eating behavior, has noted since the health crisis “the appearance of a new hybrid catering segment, between fast food and the traditional table”.

Democratized and extended deliveries

With the explosion of delivery services, click and collect, UberEats and other Deliveroo since this dark spring of 2020, “it is now possible to have food delivered that is considered much more qualitative than that of fast foods. So why deprive yourself of it? “, continues the expert. Before the coronavirus, only a third of French restaurants delivered, compared to three quarters now, notes the teacher-researcher. Between 2018 and 2020, home food delivery jumped 47% in the country, according to expert firm Food Service Vision: delivery represented 15% of catering turnover in 2020, and is expected to weigh 19 % by 2024.

“Just as with teleworking, the sanitary measures have shown that home delivery was much simpler and more accessible than people imagined”, supports Luc Gwiazdzinski, geographer and specialist in urban space at Ensa Toulouse. . If before, the delivery was limited in people’s heads to pizzas and good big KFC chicken tenders, “the townspeople have discovered that you can also order Korean, a duck breast, Caesar salad. Urban mobility of less than two kilometers has changed considerably: it is no longer worth traveling to eat well,” says the expert.

Eat healthy and eat at home

The health crisis has also brought about a new trend around healthy eating and eating better. So of course, we stopped making our homemade bread since May 2020 and the deconfinement, but certain vestiges of this period resist: “There is greater attention paid to what we eat, notes Marie-Eve Laporte. For example, half of French people seek to reduce their meat consumption. »

Above all, the French consume more at home, especially with the advent of teleworking. “Homemade remains one of the main developments linked to the health crisis. We relearned to take the time to do a whole host of activities, including cooking, ”says Jérémie Peltier, director of studies at the Jean Jaurès foundation.

Telework and home food which allow, on the rare days of face-to-face at the office, “to bring your own food, the leftovers from the day before or from the week”, supports Marie-Pierre Julien, sociologist at the University of Lorraine and specialist in dietary practices. Food bowl which has the same advantages as the local fast food restaurant: fast and efficient meal, and which therefore replaces it.

Fast food is not dead

Magnificent story, that of the victory of the little Italian cook who inherited his great-great-grandfather’s wood oven against the American capitalist giant of junk food… Hop hop, not so fast. Fast food is far from finite. McDonald’s sales were still on the rise in France in the first quarter of 2022 according to the group, Subway announced in 2021 that it wanted to open 200 more restaurants by 2025 in France, to go from 400 to 600, and KFC tricolor version made 9% of more turnover in 2021 compared to 2019, the last year before the health crisis. We are going to make it even simpler at the global level: the turnover of all these brands is on the rise.

“Even if all social classes rub shoulders with fast food, the two main targets are young people in school or university and workers and other manual trades. These populations are once again 100% face-to-face, which ensures that fast food restaurants do not lose them, ”notes Marie-Pierre Julien. And no matter how much we brag about our homemade salads from Nice, “fast food has a feeling of satiety ratio in relation to the price and the time invested that is hard to beat” continues the expert, and very practical between two lessons or a lunch break on the construction site.

A little pleasure from time to time

Marie-Eve Laporte reminds us that alongside these famous homemade breads during the first confinement (yes, we are traumatized), April and May 2020 were marked by endless queues at the McDonald’s drive-thru or incessant activities of delivery men bringing back your favorite whoopers and nuggets. Jérémie Peltier expresses it in poetry: “Deprived during confinement of their madeleine which offers them the time of a Big Mac a return to childhood, people were delighted to return to real life, symbolized by the free return in a McDo. »

Fast food is strong and also knows how to adapt to trends, continues the expert. Note how each brand boasts its products made in France, how much salads have become alternatives in each fast-food, not to mention the explosion of pokébowls and other heathly deliriums that have exploded in recent years, and which does not remain least one other type of fast food, recalls Marie-Eve Laporte.

Not to mention that while the French have become more concerned about what’s on their plate, we haven’t become food puritans either. Jérémie Peltier: “We have to be careful with these judgments that are sometimes too ‘moral’: fast food also symbolizes the little pleasure that we treat ourselves to after a movie or a football match, the extra given to children after an outing to the bowling alley, a part of recklessness and lightness that we see disappearing more and more in a society that is sometimes too serious. So yes, to eat the homemade Neapolitan pizza made by Luigi, cooked in the ashes of Vesuvius, but a croc at McDonalds is still a croc at McDonalds.

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