The health trend and its impact on consumers according to CHD Expert
The company CHD Expert analyses the broad trends in the foodservice world. First conclusion: consumers follow diets that they do not seem particularly familiar with. Indeed, "healthy" eating is based on a real philosophy of life that is sometimes not properly understood.
This trend to pursue a healthy diet is indicative of three consumer demands for this century:
The notion of sustainable development is taking hold in the minds of consumers. The quest for raw ingredients and "free-from" products is forcing suppliers and farmers to adapt. In the USA, the concept of "from farm to table" - or from farm to fork - is driving local food service with short supply chains and seasonal ingredients.
Respect for values, allied with ecological concerns, is an important factor for both consumers and professionals. Nicolas Nouchi makes a point of this: "Fast good food is the democratic manifestation today of healthy eating." This can be observed with the appearance of new trends such as "real food":
"When I started talking about gluten-free in France, people had the impression that this was something of a fad. Today it is a well-established trend. We all tell ourselves 'I mustn't overeat', while those who decide to stop eating gluten-free, when they don't actually have coeliac disease, will actually feel better for doing so. That's what the reality of healthy eating is all about."
What we can conclude from this is that, rather than being vegetarians, we are tending to become "flexitarians".
3. Fast casual
Fast casual concerns the high-end, or "premium", fast food sector. The idea is to add a luxury or special item bringing added value to the product. Consumers are ready to pay extra for this. A feature of American culture, this trend has arrived with a bang in France in recent years.
The creation of new concepts and their consequences for fast-food restaurants
The case of McDonald's: an image makeover?
Rémi Rocca talked about the world of fast food in his role as purchasing, quality and logistics director for McDonald's France. His goal? To make sure that the company continues to attract consumers, and to innovate to this end:
What is important is to do this and to make people aware that we're doing it. We realised that our corporate communication from the noughties had become less effective since 2015 on our young target audience. (…) We've shifted towards more modern communication, with TV slots designed for the social networks (…), to promote the sourcing of our products and our strict specification requirements."
Indeed, with no fewer than 2400 restaurants in France serving nearly 2 million customers every day, McDonald's sourcing must satisfy many criteria in order to attract consumers, who tend to be less loyal and increasingly demanding. The brand is therefore developing a variety of strategies:
- The creation of salad bars in all its restaurants
- Promoting service at the table (the trend from the 80s, of eating fast food in your car, is old hat!)
- Promoting certified French produce
- Entering into contracts with farmers, for a three-year commitment alongside McDonald's, with 75% French ingredients
- Strict compliance with demanding specifications: ecological commitments, animal welfare, etc.
New directions are being taken, with new means employed for eating healthily, as proven by the creation of a veggie burger in 2018.
The case of FoodChéri: winning customers by means of an agile and rigorous menu
Committed to the quality of its raw products, the start-up, FoodChéri, has been regularly renewing its ranges for three years, so that consumers get to eat better. Julia Verni, COO of FoodChéri, underlines the start-up's mission to propose meals that are: "sustainable, more delicious and cleaner." To respect consumer wishes, the products are examined with a fine-tooth comb:
"You have the percentage of French ingredients, percentage of certified ingredients, percentage of seasonal ingredients. You even have the carbon footprint of your meal, estimated on the basis of what goes into the trays, where each ingredient comes from, etc. This represents enormous work for us in terms of data (…). We want [consumers] to know that there are 4000 g of carbon for the beef dish and only 600 g for the veggie dish, since this helps improve collective awareness of the impact on the planet."
A new philosophy of consumer as producer?
This new, healthier sourcing involves two perspectives for operators, according to Nicolas Nouchi of CHD Expert:
- One perspective addressing the philosophy of the consumer
- Another split into two with, on the one hand, the "older" consumer who sees the possibility of gaining precious extra minutes of life and, on the other, the "younger" consumer who rejects the industrial vision in favour of a healthier lifestyle
In the words of Nicolas Nouchi: "This sourcing dimension will provide both comfort for consumers and growth prospects for operators."
The question for the future involves the blockchain as applied to the world of food: how do we present and filter data while guaranteeing healthy out-of-home meals?