intro: an increase in consumer’s concern for healthy food has recently contributed to define a new trend in restaurants and catering organisations. Following this marketing orientation, fast food restaurants have added many new healthier options…
But this is not enough and we can actually be witness to the rapid flourishing of new food chains, mostly in Europe, that cleverly merge the healthy (e.g. organic, fair-trade labelled, local, fresh) and fast-food (e.g. low-price, take-away, cool) approaches: it is the ‘healthy fast food’ phenomenon. The following is just a representative list of what is actually available on the market:
a snowball effect: thanks to consumers’ pressure, even giant fast food chains such as the previously reluctant McDonald’s are switching to more sustainable practices: in Sweden, for example, McDonald’s restaurants serve meat from animals that have been far more ethically treated than US livestock, and the Swedish branch of the company has also taken major steps toward becoming more Earth-friendly.
- Sens a new concept in restaurants, opened in France in June 2003. Keeping the idea of a fast-food restaurant, what it offers are either take-away meals or meals to be enjoyed on the spot, seated or standing up. The chefs, nevertheless, invest their talent in this fast-food restaurant by doing a great job investigating the origins of Mediterranean cuisine (Greece, Spain, Italy, Northern Africa, Malta) in order to elaborate the most original sandwich recipes. Another innovation is a small grocery corner, which offers original products such as ventrèche de thon, millesimed sardines, fish soup, and Collioure anchovies: a judicious selection of affordable specialities.
- Fast Good is a Spanish restaurant (based in Madrid) created by NH Hotels and Ferran Adrià. It works by adding gourmet ingredients to traditional fast-food menu items and by offering a quality fast food service in order to satisfy the demands of the modern client who has little time to eat but isn’t willing to compromise his or her health or the quality of the food. Adrià is a famous Catalan chef awarded three stars in the Michelin international best restaurants guide. On the menu we can choose hamburgers, from ox or beef, made with all fresh ingredients and salads with creative vinaigrettes. [www.fast-good.com/en/home.htm]
- Exki has branches across Belgium and in Turin, Italy. Although using the fast food concept, it offers healthy bio-organic and tasty dishes instead, from seasonal soups to Indian noodle and chicken dishes. [www.exki.be]
Fast food chains in the United States often say that such changes would render them unprofitable. But in Sweden, McDonald’s has prospered while cutting fuel costs and pollution by over 30% through reducing distribution distances, and eliminating thousands of tons of packaging material by changing to more environmental packaging. More than half of the 160 Swedish McDonald’s restaurants and its national headquarters now run on renewable energy.