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Fast Food in France is booming. How can Irish producers get on board?

Sarah Phelan, Market Specialist France, Belgium and Luxembourg

Fast Food in France.jpg

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

France is a nation renowned for its culinary excellence and eating traditions. The toque-adorned chefs still exist and the appetite for Michelin starred cuisine remains strong. However, in recent years the explosion of France’s Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) or fast food channel has elevated France to one of the fastest growing markets for fast food. While fast food is indeed prepared quickly in French QSR, it is not consumed fast  (Boutboul, 2023). French consumers still take their time to sit and enjoy a meal and do not eat while moving and rarely eat in their car. 

In value terms, QSR has grown by 37% since 2019, more than double the growth experienced by the traditional restaurant sector in the same period (“Viandes Bovines – Tendances Lait Viande,” 2023).  France’s QSR offering is also becoming more and more premium with average spend price for new restaurant concepts as high as €25 (Boutboul, 2023).

The latest chain cashing in on the success of French QSR is American fried chicken giant, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. Popeye’s, launched in France in February 2023, with high ambitions to open 20 sites in France this coming year and a long term goal of opening 350 restaurants in France (20 minutes, 2023). Also looking to gain their slice of the pie are American burger chain Wendy’s and donut chain Krispy Kreme.

Long gone are the days when the only fast food options in France was a burger and ‘le sandwich’. Today’s French diners want to travel to faraway places through their meal occasions.  Now there is over 50 fast high-end concepts from empanadas to ceviche, Ethiopian to Indonesian, Korean fried chicken to Hawaiian poke (raw fish bowls).  Interestingly, French consumers do not want to innovate their classic dishes. Recipes such as Boeuf Bourguignon and coq au vin remain sacred and untouched.

Fast Food in France Img2.jpg

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

French buyers are typically more open to purchasing products which are not currently produced or available locally. The opportunity for Irish producers is therefore to tap into the Foods of the World trend and deliver problem-solving concepts to French chains and wholesalers.

Irish suppliers should be aware of the following trends when pitching new business to French buyers:

1. French buyers are looking for products that are in line with current consumer consumption trends. An example would be French QSR chains adopting the Americana theme and looking to replace their UK sourced providers of muffins and cheesecakes. Be sure to engage with the Bord Bia Paris office and The Thinking House library team to understand how your products address the current consumer consumption trends in the French market and prepare your presentation with this insight in mind.

2. Although rising prices continue to be worrying for the industry, offering an innovative and premium customer experience is still a priority as French QSR continues to become more of a premium-focused market. Your product needs to ensure that it sets your customer out from the crowd.

3. French QSR chains are under continued pressure to source locally and if they purchase a product from another country, they need to have done their due diligence regarding the CSR of their suppliers. Traceability of ingredients is very important as is short ingredient lists and clean labels. Ensure your product offering fulfils this requirement.

4. Staff shortages & expertise remain a problem. Can your product solve a problem and is it convenient and easy to use?

5. Customization is key. Having an exclusive product ensures that a chain can express their personality without the threat of a competitor selling the same product. Can you produce a tailor made product for your target?

For more information, please contact Sarah Phelan in the Paris office. Sarah.phelan@bordbia.ie



20 minutes. (2023, February 3). Quand Paris devient le royaume du fast-food haut de gamme. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from www.20minutes.fr website: https://m.20minutes.fr/amp/a/4021571

Boutboul, B. (2022, February 6). Bernard Boutboul on LinkedIn: Quand Paris devient le royaume du fast-food haut de gamme | 17 comments. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from www.linkedin.com website: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/bernard-boutboul-a06025a_quand-paris-devient-le-royaume-du-fast-food-activity-7027544313135792128-ncCP?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

Viandes bovines – Tendances Lait Viande. (2023, January 19). Retrieved February 13, 2023, from Tendances-lait-viande.fr website: https://www.tendances-lait-viande.fr/category/viande-bovine/?numero=346