From poorly mixed salads to the all-important lunch break, how did the poké bowl invade France?

From our special hype reporter for today,

Lunch break, June 7, 2018. We kindly offered to have a good old Do-Mac when Thomas, our colleague, gave us a sympathetic look in the face of our – supposedly – bad taste: “No, we don’t have 15 years. We’ll make a poké”. Include a poké bowl, and for two in the back that escaped the Hawaiian food hype: a bowl made up of rice, fresh fruit and a source of protein, traditional fish. About 15 euros spent later – including 2 for a little extra chicken – we just jumped on the bandwagon.

Four years later, and it has sprouted poké outlets like mushrooms all over France. Even traditional restaurants have gotten into it and are offering their own version. In the figures, which provide 200 million bowls sold in France in 2021, announced Bernard Boutboul, president of Gira Conseil, a company of expertise in the consumption of food outside the home. So the bowl is to fast food what the Spritz is to a cocktail: is branches But how did what we still considered five years ago as an unmixed salad impose itself in this way?

Veni, Vidi, Heathly

To find out, go back to basics. Or rather to this dear Thomas, just to ask him how he smelled it: “It’s clear: it’s fresh, satiating and healthy”, tells us that this former journalist turned bookseller. Not fat or too heavy, welcome to the world of HEALTHY, which meets today’s requirements. François Blouin, the founder of Food Service Vision, explains: “There is a real transparency in poké, where consumers place great importance: we see the products, always fresh and unprocessed, we choose, we know what we are eating.Rice also has the advantage of being naturally gluten-free – also a current need.

As a good commercial, Emilie, behind the bar of Pokébowl 9em (Paris), boasts of her products: “It’s a healthier lunch than a burger or a kebab. It’s balanced, with a good carbohydrate ratio -protein-lipid! A promise that does not need to be fulfilled, because a nutritionist will tell you about the relatively high glycemic index of most ingredients and some bad consumer product choices that destroy caloric value.

Not a great product?

Marie-Eve Laporte, teacher-researcher at the IAE Paris-Sorbonne and specialist in food behavior, looks positively: “It is not the top of the healthy but in fact less calories than most burgers or other fast food . Nicolas Nouchi, from CHD Expert-Datassential, explains: “Not all HEALTHY in poké, but compared to most fast food, it adds fruits and vegetables, which provide fiber and vitamins”. It is always taken.

In the middle of a debate on the healthy side or not of the bowl, Emilie added a second strong argument: her 200 grams of rice on average. Understand: a satiating product that avoids 4 pm cravings and the devil of Kinder Bueno in the coffee machine. There is also, the disbelief on the part of Bernard Boutboul: “It is no more filling than any rice salad, pasta or other starchy foods. »

Salad 2.0

Because yes, let’s stop pretending: a poke bowl is a salad. Fit, yes, but a salad. This also partly explains its success, because the mixed salad is the fourth most used product sold in France, behind the sandwich-burger-pizza trio (yum), informs Bernard Boutboul. 550 million mixed salads are sold each year, a total that doesn’t even consider poké bowls. And the president of Gira Conseil assured him: “If we add the two, the product will definitely come in the third”.

A 2.0 salad therefore, with what Nicolas Nouchi calls premiumization: basically, raising the quality of what you eat yourself. Back in 2018, with our additional 2 euros invested in chicken and better protein intake. Besides raising the product, it is the fact of being able to make your own salad that is important: the diversity of the offer, of course, and “the satisfaction of the consumer with a unique product that corresponds to their preferences”. And that’s good for restaurateurs, because the product is more expensive when customized and personalized. The average cash receipt for fast food stands at 11.50 euros in 2021 on fast food instead of 9.70 euros in 2019, according to a CDH expert study.

Beautiful is more than good

Another advantage: at a time when it is more difficult to start your plate without being interrupted – “aaaaatteeeeends, I’ll take a picture of the dish first” – the poke bowl has the advantage of being beautiful with well-arranged colors of ingredients. “A large part of customer satisfaction relies more on aesthetics than on food content in the age of Instagrammable food,” says Nicolas Nouchi. It’s mathematical: “the more photogenic it is, the more it’s shared in networks, the more the product can speak to people. And being beautiful also helps delivery sites,” added François Blouin.

Because the success of the poké bowl is also part of the upward dynamics of sales of take-out and home delivery… and the reduction of lunch time, explains Marie-Eve Laporte. To sum up: “Poké is part of all current consumer trends”. And it seems destined to last, all the specialists agree. François Blouin: “The development of the poké bowl is not over yet. It still has part of the market to conquer and strengthen, we are not at the peak”. Tomas wasn’t done reminding him that he was right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.