Hamburgers, pizzas, hotdogs and other fast foods have swiped 54percent of the overall market share, accounting for €34 billion insales in the sector in 2012. A year ago, that number was only 40percent.”In previous years, we could see fast food was gaining ground,but this is the first time it has overtaken restaurants where youare served at the table,” said Julien Jeanneau of French foodconsulting firm Gira Conseil, which conducted the survey intoFrance’s eating habits published on Thursday.”Despite a slowdown and unfavorable economic optimism, themarket for fast food is still well in 2012,” said thereport.The past year turned out to be especially successful for fastfood giants like McDonald’s – as France became the chain’ssecond-largest market in the world after the US – or its localrival Quick. The two saw their sales increase by 4 and 5 percent,respectively.While the fast food giants had dollar signs in their eyes,restaurants traditionally serving three-course lunches have beenhit hard by seismic changes to France’s eating habits, expertsexplained, as French purchasing power has declined. The French nowtend to buy cheaper food and save money by not going to restaurantsfor lunch.Sales of sandwiches in France rose by 6 percent in 2012,reaching more than €7 billion in the past 12 months alone; Franceconsumed a total of 2.105 billion sandwiches last year. The reportalso revealed the French are the second-biggest consumers of pizzain the world, after the US. One of the explanations for the new trend is a change in officeculture, experts from Gira Conseil explained. Fast food chains aremore likely to meet demand, as they not only cook quicker, but alsodeliver their food. French employees are also increasinglyordering takeout for the workplace.”What works is to go where the consumer needs it,” Gira ConseilDirector Bernard Boutboul said.The survey found out that the average time spent eating a mealin France has dropped from 1 hour and 20 minutes in 1975 to 30minutes today. This is also cited as one of the reasons why theFrench culture of restaurants and lunches with wine is losing itspopularity.