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Slow Snacking or Fast Casual Dining: You can eat healthy AND quickly! - Vatel

Slow Snacking or Fast Casual Dining: You can eat healthy AND quickly!

Today, “fast” is a key word for many people: the clock is ticking and things must get done quickly. It is in this context that fast food appeared, with the consumer’s need to eat quickly.


Caught up in healthy eating, slow snacking & fast casual dining.

Fast services : a key and harmless factor

Slow snacking restaurant spend a lot of time looking for quality products available at greengrocers. This is were the word "slow comes from. The service is still very quick.  

Do people like eating fast and unhealthy food? Studies say no. After their rapid evolution, fast-food restaurants today face the health and environmental problems they offer. Quality is too often left aside in favor of quantity. It is how a new concept appeared: Fast Casual dining, or high-end fast food. The objective is clear: it advertises higher quality and more eco-friendly food choices than traditional fast food restaurants.

The leading entrepreneur of this movement in France is Alain Cojean. Former director of research and development at McDonald's, he noticed the gap that exists and the changing trends. In 2001, he founded the Cojean restaurant chain. On the menu: sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. but above all, a response to current trends with organic products and gluten-free choices.

For consumers, this concept seems like the optimum solution at a time when environmental and 'junk food' problems are growing. Contrary to popular belief for years, it is actually possible to eat fast and healthy. Feeling good while and after eating healthy products and not wasting any time is a nice feeling right? Environmental awareness is also demonstrated: offering homemade dishes, healthy products or favoring short supply chains such as “locavorism”: eating food which is grown in less than a 250km radius. These trends are a win-win for restaurants and consumers.

The increase in price is fully justified by the increase in quality

It is more expensive to eat in a slow snacking or fast-casual restaurant: this is a fact. But is the economic criterion really what matters today? According to Bernard Boutboul, General Manager of Gira Conseil, the answer is no. For 25-40 year olds, the target group of this new concept, the health factor takes precedence over the price factor. He explains that many people are ready to spend more money in addition to their meal voucher, for quality products. For example, at Cojean, the average bill is around 25 euros and 10 euros at McDonald's. Cojean now has 25 restaurants in Paris, which is a symbol of his success in the snacking industry.

The price increase is indeed justifiable: cooking 100% homemade dishes with fresh and local products is more expensive than importing frozen products in large quantities. However, this rise in prices provides an opportunity for improvements: for example, buying products from a local store may be more expensive, but it will reduce the costs of imports and environmental consequences. Also, many consumers are aware that paying more can actually have a very positive impact.

A powerful market in the midst of development 

The snack market is changing: the consumer’s desire for quality opens the door to many shopkeepers, especially food-related professionals (butchers, greengrocers, bakers, fishmongers). These companies represent a turnover of 25 million euros, but which tends to decrease. However, Gira Conseil notes that some establishments choose to offer food on-the-go in order to attract more customers. For example, bakeries make more than 40% of their turnover thanks to sandwiches and food to go. This figure has risen steadily over the past 10 years.

Today, this current trend opens up a new high-growth market for food businesses. The quality is present in their ingredients. Now they must adapt their range of food on-the-go choices and the way in which they distribute them in order to reach target customers. Depending on their activities, they can offer breakfast, lunch or dinner in addition to morning snacks and finger food items. For example, the butcher shop 'Au fin Gourmet' in Merignac offers meals available for take-away or delivery. These two different options allow them to sell their meat in a different way and allow customers to enjoy meat directly from a butcher shop.

Slow snacking and fast casual dining enter the market thanks to the increased demand from consumers. The challenge will now be for businesses to find a way to adapt their range of products to a market different from the one they are used to.

Food on the go : how does it fit in this new market? 

A new market opening up to food-related professionals and new entrepreneurs requires good organization.Here are some of our tips to shed some light on this topic:

  • Firstly, it is imperative to show potential customers that you are in business: whether it is by setting up tables for customers to use or signs for takeaway food, your establishment should be visible. Feel free to set up display cases so that customers can see the items you are selling.
  • Then, make it known that you offer fresh and healthy products. It's about winning customers’ trust so they will want to come back.
  • Food on-the-go has a few rules, so it’s important to adapt. Packaging for takeaway meals and various menu options are particularly important points for customers.
  • Finally, develop new ways of selling your products. For example, the “click & collect” system (when the customer orders before coming to get his or her meal) is very popular because it saves time for the shopkeeper and the customer.

As you can see, the development of these new concepts is part of a society in which we want to adopt better, yet faster, consumption patterns.

Eliott Berche, 2nd year bachelor student at Vatel Bordeaux.

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