In Australia, it is people of a lower socio-economic status who are more likely to purchase frozen foods instead of their fresh equivalents.¹ In France, however, the opposite appears to be true.
Picard’s market offering as a gourmet supermarket appeals far more to middle-to-high income earners than to those on a budget.
It seems not all frozen foods are created equal.
The birth of gourmet frozen food in France
Picard was born in the early 1900s as a company who made freezer bricks. Fifty years later they expanded into the frozen food market. Today, they have over 700 stores, the majority concentrated in France, with stores in Italy and a delivery service available in some parts of Spain and Belgium.²
Frozen food: convenient, not tasty?
Growing up in Australia, I learnt at a young age that fresh food is always best. Perhaps because of this, I spent quite a number of months in France oblivious to this wondrous world of delectable, partially-prepared designer meals just begging to be eaten at my local Picard.
The Australian avoidance of frozen food is evident in recent advertising campaigns, undertaken by supermarket giant Coles, claiming they “never freeze” their produce.
Australian product marketers manage to sell frozen food almost solely on the basis that they are convenient, appealing to an increasingly time-poor audience. They are also billed as being relatively better for you than the alternative: the dreaded drive through window.
But a discussion about taste is noticeably absent from the Australian discourse on frozen food.
French focus on flavour
Taste is always a factor for the French. But just as in Australia, people in France are leading increasingly busy lives and turning to stores like Picard for convenience, bien sûr, but not at the sacrifice of taste.
The sheer range of goods available means that there is a Picard product for every occasion. The selection ranges from the ubiquitous frozen peas to every class and cut of meat you can imagine and even fifteen different types of potato.
And that’s just the beginning.
The real point of difference can be found in their aperitif and plats cuisinés ranges. Feel like an individual tarte tatin or fresh tagliatelle with white truffles? Or how about ‘wowing’ your dinner party invitees with deliciously tender duck confit without the accompanying hours in the kitchen? (Because we know you’ll be judged on your cooking.)
You’ve come to the right place.
I wonder if this very French approach to convenience food will catch on outside of Europe. And if it does, whether Australians and indeed other countries will be able to move past the low-taste stigma associated with frozen food long enough to discover the delights to be found chez Picard.
I, for one, would be first in line at a Picard opening in Melbourne.
1. CCA Submission to NHMRC Dietary Guidelines Consultation
2. Picard Website
1. Le Blagueur à Paris on Flickr
2. ell brown on Flickr
3. kenjonbro on Flickr
4. Rooey202 on Flickr