France is the largest market for Domino's Pizza in continental Europe and the second largest market for McDonald's around the world. All the stories you may have heard of the strong French culture still hold true, yet the country is undergoing a historic change in its Food culture. A report from the consulting firm Gira Conseil in 2014 mentioned traditional restaurants serving sit-down meals fell behind fast food restaurants for the first time in France as fast food took over 54% of the market with a £29 billion turnover. The change is quite significant in the larger worldwide context as France has always been considered a country with a strong sense of pride in its culture and all the underlying implications including those on the protection of the French cuisine.

What is driving this change?

Out of the many variable reasons, the consistent reasoning supporting the change has been the time spent on eating. Traditional French eating habits involve long meals with family and/or friends and/or colleagues, over the year this tradition has seen change with more and more people focusing on spending less time on meals. A survey reported on the BBC mentioned that in 2013, the average time spent on lunch breaks in France was 20 minutes compared to an hour-and-a-half 20 years ago. Another aspect has been the growth of fast food restaurants providing delivery of meals to the customer's location through computer-based applications. This system of food-delivery has picked up the pace, especially in cities with high working-class populations where people prefer to order their food online and save on time and costs.

Who is leading the change?

As expected through the worldwide trend, McDonald's dominates the market but it is not the only one, Domino's Pizza has established a strong presence as they close in on 400 stores across the country. Another food giant, Burger King, first entered the French markets in 1996 but failed and left, only to re-enter in 2013 and an exponential expansion was observed through the 2015 acquisition of one of France's biggest fast food franchises in Quick.

Home-delivery service providers such as Allo Resto, Deliveroo, Foodora, and many others, have also played their part in reinforcing the change in eating habits and are picking up consistent growth in market size and opportunities.

Food giants eyeing up France

While the growth has been consistent, these fast food restaurants are careful not to play around with French sentiment and as such most of the fast food franchises entering France adapt their international standards to local French ways.

Being one of the biggest economies in the world, France allows more chances to experiment and manoeuvre through pricing strategies than most countries. The current shifting trends are an indicator for global food giants to look at France with hope. On the other end of the spectrum, as globalisation allows brands a relative ease to access the markets around the world, traditions are being challenged and the French are now facing an uphill battle against fast food.