The Modernisation of French Gastronomy

What social media data can tell us about France’s evolving eating habits

Food and drink form an integral part of France’s international reputation. The French are known around the world for premier ingredients, commitment to quality, and leisurely two-hour lunches. In fact, the French tend to regard dining as a ‘full-time activity’, according to French sociologists who have studied the nation’s eating habits.

Delivery challenges dining out

On-demand food delivery, the latest trend in big cities around the world, has taken hold in France. Overall, the conversations around food delivery rose substantially between 2012 and 2016. AlloResto, France’s homegrown mobile delivery app, dominated the conversation with 47%, followed by UberEats, Foodora and Deliveroo. AlloResto has most likely been boosted by its partnership with European food delivery giant, JustEat.

Despite the rise of delivery apps, dining out still holds firm in France, experiencing a slight rise in overall conversation volume from 81% in 2012 to 86% in 2016. Our data shows people are more likely to dine out on the weekends and use delivery apps during the week — suggesting a desire for convenience is shaping these trends.

Decline of home cooking

Despite the French love of food, the humble home cooked meal is starting to lose ground to more convenient alternatives. The data shows a steep decline in conversations around home cooking, which dropped 89% from 2012 to 2016. People say they often ‘don’t feel like cooking’, as comments on social media show. Relaxation has become key, hence why delivery is gaining ground, thanks to its ease and convenience.

(Booked a delivery, I didn’t feel like cooking, I want to relax tonight)

(Is it bad if it’s the fourth time in a row that I order pizza on delivery?)

(Don’t feel like cooking, ordering sushi)

Feminism in the kitchen

For a country that has produced so many heavyweight feminists, French mainstream culture can appear fairly traditional in terms of gender roles. But in the kitchen at least, norms may be shifting, as our data shows. In 2012, women generated 66% of the conversation around cooking, while men lagged behind with just 34%. Fast forward four years and we can see the cooking conversation becomes more balanced, with men accounting for 45% of the cooking conversation and women 55%.

It’s possible that these shifts reflect changing social norms, with cooking in 2016 viewed as a fashionable activity rather than a necessary chore. The timing patterns of when men and women talk about cooking also reveal some interesting insights. Cooking-related conversations from men are more common on the weekends, whereas women tend to discuss cooking during the weekdays. Perhaps this means men tend to cook for fun or as a hobby, while women cook out of habit?

Favourite tipples

French dining habits might be changing with the times, but what about French attitudes towards wine? As the world’s largest wine producer, what the French think about their grapes really matters. The good news is: wine is still as popular in France as ever. But the question is, what’s more popular, red or white? Our data shows white wine gaining significant traction over red, capturing a greater share of the conversation: 70% in 2016. Conversations around certain types of wine are also shifting, displaying changing trends. Syrah was the most-discussed red, and Chardonnay the most-discussed white.


What’s the future for French gastronomy?

France is a big player in terms of food and wine — and the French retain many of their traditional habits. But nevertheless, the country remains prone to the influence of new technological trends. Gender norms around food are shifting too, as women and men take on a more balanced share of kitchen activity. Despite trends that come and go, staple French habits such as eating out in restaurants remain common. Overall, monitoring social conversation is the most effective approach for getting ahead of the curve in understanding what the French think about all things gastronomy.
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