Home NewsThe lunch break revolutionized by new habits

The lunch break revolutionized by new habits

September 06 2022
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French eating habits have changed a lot in the past two years. Heavily impacted by the health crisis, the lunch break in the catering industry has undergone many upheavals. The concept of fixed-hour meals is less and less appealing to workers. Lunch breaks are becoming shorter, more fragmented and expectations are no longer the same. First to continue selling and then to remain competitive, the catering industry, commercial as well as corporate, has had to adapt its channels (delivery, VAE, click and collect) and its offer (food quality,...).

The Adoria experts present the new forms that the lunch break is taking, in an increasingly competitive context to which inflation is now added.

New eating habits, lunch breaks that have become nomadic

Many factors explain the revolution in our meals. First, the health crisis with its batch of confinements, curfews and restrictions has pushed restaurant owners to evolve their offer and distribution channels, and customers to evolve their consumption patterns.

Between the search for convenience, snacking and online ordering, discover the new expectations of consumers.

New consumer expectations

The French no longer eat at the table, especially during the lunch break. The snacking craze has replaced the sit-down meal at set times. According to studies, the French snack in the morning and in the afternoon (49 es active eat a snack in the morning and 41% in the afternoon*). The lunchtime meal is therefore less important and takes place more quickly.

Consumers are primarily looking for convenience and speed.

To summarize, they want:

  • A fast food, available for takeaway or delivery;
  • Quality products, eco-responsible or labeled; eating well.
  • Facilitated online payment;
  • Attractive prices to address their concerns related to purchasing power.

The lunch break niche has become highly competitive (restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets,...) and is prompting some groups to reposition themselves on other niches. For example, the chain Jour, traditionally positioned on lunch, is now experimenting with an offer of aperitif boards in 11 restaurants in its network.

Fast food increasingly popular

For the lunch break, the main expectation of the worker or consumer is not to enjoy himself, but to eat quickly, on the go and often at a reduced price. Fast food is therefore a very popular mode of consumption. Of course, fast-food restaurants are taking an important part of the market, but there is also a desire to eat well. A Yougov study from August 2021 reveals that 55 es respondents believe that the quality of their food is important.

As a result, "Fast Casual" ("fast and casual") restaurant concepts are on the rise. They offer the convenience of fast food without the full service of a fine dining restaurant. Fast Casual is characterized by a more inviting seating environment, often linked to the ability to compose your own meal. The menu is made up of higher quality ingredients that can be found in most fast food establishments.

Delivery or takeout, the importance of channels

No surprise, in commercial foodservice, EAT and delivery have taken precedence over on-site consumption. Sales channels have thus evolved significantly since the health crisis.

Delivery, click and collect and takeout, preferred sales channels

These new sales channels, which have taken hold during periods when restaurants are closed to the public, have created new consumption habits that have transformed the restaurant landscape.

Nearly half of consumers enjoy ordering their meals online. It's a search for convenience, but also a way to take the time to choose their meal no matter where they are. The choice is also becoming wider, which is good news for customers, and the competition ever tougher,: restaurant owners must renew themselves to meet consumer expectations and remain attractive.

Product quality, a crucial parameter for consumers

While the French favor a fast food mode based on snacking and convenience, they are by no means putting quality aside. The demand is for eco-responsible products with a short circuit.

Committed quality products

The selling points are also played out on the quality of the products. The origin of the ingredients is more and more put forward.

Fast food restaurants also play the quality card, especially in fast casual. Homemade food is favored with reduced menus, but fresh and local products.

Lunch break is an increasingly competitive and demanding niche, which requires to meet the new expectations of consumers. It needs to be fast, flexible, quality and economical.

*According to a CHD Expert study from February 2022.

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