Le Burger “Made in France” an inspirational model for all14-02-2017
The strong rise of the burger on French menus began more than five years ago.
French burger chains and restaurants are thriving across the length and breadth of the country and have set their sights further afield to international markets. These are gourmet burgers made with local, premium produce, and some even come with geographical provenance … 100% Made in France.
Burgers on the menu in 75% of French restaurants
The burger market in France is in constant growth, driven essentially by new market players seeking to assign the burger a new brand image. It’s a market currently worth 7.3 billion euros and accounts for half the sandwiches sold in France, according to a recent study by Gira Conseil, and volume sales increased by almost 10% in 2014. Interestingly growth is not restricted to specialised burger chains, as three quarters of French restaurants now feature “le burger” on their menus. In total, more than a billion burgers were sold in France in 2014.
100% French burgers, mais oui!
Major fast food chains firmly rooted in France have enticed French consumers with a “Made in France” marketing strategy, using promotional operations focusing on cheese or meat. However, the current movement around new burger restaurants is all about leveraging authentic 100% French produce. Big Fernand is a prime example, a French fast food restaurant responsible for launching the hamburger trend back in 2012.
“We provide authentic French cheese including unpasteurised tomme de Savoie, unpasteurised raclette and fourme d’Ambert. Our meat is French Charolais beef, bread is made from our own recipe and our sauces are prepared in our development kitchen, so all absolutely French. But we see cheese as our real signature brand, which accompanies us wherever we may be, even abroad. If you eat a hamburger at Big Fernand in Hong Kong, the cheese comes from France,” explains Steve Burgraaf.
He is the fortuitous brand founder set to notch up 50 eateries in France by the end of the year. “We aim to be in every town or city with a population of more than 120,000 by the end of the year,” states the CEO, who has always believed France has the capacity for a burger model other than international fast food chains. “We said we would give this dish, which at its very core is not French at all, an authentic French makeover. So we use 100% French, using quality produce, which is an important selling point in France and also abroad.”
Among the dozens of chains to launch hot on the heels of this French burger trend, many are quality-focused. Blend for example is a chain making steady growth, and which also came to the conclusion that there had to be another way to enjoy burgers, by giving the product a gourmet transformation through choice of ingredients and preparation method.
“Everything in our burgers is cooked, so apart from salad, not a single ingredient escapes some form of cooking process, whether its a chopping board, frying pan, cooking pot, the oven or saucepan. The ingredients in our burgers all carry PDO or AOC quality status,” explains Victor Garnier, the brainchild behind the Blend brand.
The idea came up during a university exchange programme in Los Angeles. “At the time, I didn’t realise that in hamburgers, a blend is an skilful mix of different cuts of beef to make the perfect “steak hache”. Hence the idea to name the project Blend.”
Putting a steak in the ground in foreign markets
Expect to find Camembert REO, Bleu d’Auverne and Emmental from Savoie. “Our garlic mayonnaise is made using the finest cream, Crème fraiche d’Isigny PDO, our smoked bacon is sourced in Essonne, cider jelly from Pas-de-Calais, traditional Label Rouge flour and spelt flour from France, cider vinegar from Burgundy, while our gherkins originate from Auxerre.” And the list goes on.
Big Fernand has proved a huge hit in France and is now selling its Philibert, Alphonse and Bartholome named burgers in international markets. With two development kitchens in China, one in London, one in Dubai and another two on the horizon, Big Fernand is a shining example for any French burger chain hungry to export. “We also want to see our products on the US market. From what we know about this market, our products have a legitimate place, and I believe we have what it takes to win over Americans on their own hamburger turf, but obviously with our French recipes”. And this might just be the recipe to inspire other French companies.