Belgians tap into France's latest fast food fad

Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:27pm EST
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By Lionel Laurent

BOURG-LA-REINE, France (Reuters Life!) - In the quiet, southern Parisian suburb of Bourg-la-Reine, a Belgian brand of upmarket ready-made food is pulling young professionals and students away from their traditional lunchtime haunts.

The outlet, "Delitraiteur" --a twist on the word "traiteur," roughly meaning delicatessen --is a mix of deli, convenience store and restaurant, offering everything from freshly squeezed orange juice and organic cereals to ready-made Italian meals.

The Belgian-owned chain is due to expand into the heart of Paris this summer after opening in Bourg-la-Reine in November.

It is part of a new breed of retailers in France looking to attract time-pressured, urban consumers with quality food in a convenience-store format amid the many hamburger restaurants such as McDonald's, Quick and Asian food counters.

Although France is known for long meals in a traditional cafe or restaurant setting, habits seem to be slowly changing.

"It's the changing family and changing consumer preferences (driving the market)," said Isabel Cavill, an analyst with Planet Retail, citing similar chains like Le Pain Quotidien -- which is also originally Belgian -- and the less upmarket Daily Monop', which is 50 percent owned by Casino Guichard.

The Belgian EXKi lunch room chain opened in Paris in 2006 and Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, is testing an urban convenience banner called Carrefour City.

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