The eating habits of the French, world champions of the lunch break

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While three out of five employees in the world never stop for lunch, in France, the lunch break remains a particularly sacrosanct moment in the day: never a working day goes by without breaking for lunch. For most French employees, lunchtime is a key moment in their working day.

To understand this French particularity, Elior France asked the Sociovision research agency to carry out a lunch-break survey with 8,000 employees in France. While the lunchtime break has changed considerably, and is now shorter than it was 20 years ago, this survey reveals employees’ eating habits and catering expectations, gives insight into what the company restaurant of the future might look like, and, as such makes it possible to anticipate consumers’ changing needs and behavior patterns.

The survey highlights 7 key points

1/ The lunch break is sacrosanct

Despite the change in working patterns over the years, the lunch break has survived in France, with 84% of employees still very much attached to their midday meal.

2) The lunch break is a cherished habit

For most employees in France, the lunch break is a daily ritual, firmly rooted in the French culture ; 88% of diners always eat with the same people, and 90% at the same time (between 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm) and on the same budget.

3/ The lunch break: not just about eating

For French employees, the lunch break is also an opportunity to spend a relaxing moment with colleagues, to recharge their batteries, or do a few non-work things.

4/ The company restaurant enhances the feeling of wellbeing in the workplace

Eating well is expensive and employees are aware of the advantages of having access to a company restaurant that offers quality food at unbeatable prices. Indeed, the company restaurant tops the list of work venues that enhance the quality of life in the workplace.

5/ The ideal solution: food for all tastes

Even more than knowing they will be served their favorite meals and guaranteed regular changes in the menu- the French prefer to vary their culinary pleasures, while maintaining a balanced diet.

6/ Differing lunch break profiles

For gourmets and “bon vivants”, lunchtime is a sacred, pleasurable moment: French company restaurants cater for all tastes by offering a wide choice, with gourmet dishes and three-course menus available in a convivial setting. For the more down-to-earth types, the company restaurant is the ideal lunchtime solution offering varied and quality food, at, above all, reasonable prices.

7/ By 2025, the company restaurant should serve as a facilitator

The company restaurant of the future will be an interactive and personalized venue offering diners information needed to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and the opportunity to explore new tastes, and providing a wide range of practical services designed to enhance the lives of employees in the workplace.  Regarding the top two requests on the employees’ wish list, 80% of respondents want to have information about the origins of the food served and 80% would like to explore new tastes.

French employees attached to their company restaurant

This survey notably reveals how important the company restaurant is for French employees: 96% of employees with access to a company restaurant use it frequently and 75% of them lunch there at least four times per week. According to the survey, the company restaurant also enhances the quality of live in the workplace, by offering a selection of good food at the lowest possible prices, helps improve professional relationships, and encourages employees to adopt healthy eating habits. French employees are particularly attached to their company restaurant, which, for the vast majority, is “a real benefit”.