Food & Beverage

Dec 1, 2017

'GOURMET' MEAT AT ANY TIME

A Basque butcher located in Paris has decided to bet on automatic vending machines one year ago to keep the availability of its gourmet cuts after hours.

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By NIGEL HAWTHORNE

Instead of the usual sweets and salted snacks, the vending machines of L'ami Txulette include several meat cuts packed in vacuum, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including cured meats and the traditional pates of the Basque Country.

Located on the Rue de Charonne in the French capital, an area with at least two dozen butcheries and charcuteries, the owners intention was to keep its products available to the customers that might want to purchase it after the regular opening hours and on its two days off, so even with the butcher shop closed, they can purchase its products, since even though they are open up to 8pm the busy hours of an agitated city like Paris still make it impossible for some customers to find it open when they finally get to the street on their way home.

The vending machine takes cash, debit and credit cards and has a bit of everything from the store, from beef carpaccio to duck confit and the already mentioned basque pates and vacuum packed meat cuts, including steaks and fresh sausages, that only cost you an extra 20 cents than the ones available inside the store. Being a street filled with bars and restaurants, both the customers as the employees of those establishments when passing through the store during the day make a point of showing their satisfaction for being able to buy a certain product when they left work late in the night.

But L'ami Txulette did not single handily start this innovation, over the last three years there were several innovations as far as using automatic vending machines to permanently make it available products that we are used to buy during office hours. First it was the bakeries to include its baguettes and other bread options on vending machines as far as six years ago, in several geographies of France, the refrigerated vending machines are allowing the sale of fresh foods without a risk of spoiling.

Other noteworthy examples arrive from outside the French capital, like the small town of Garat that, having no butcher shop of its own, relies on a vending machine placed outside the local bar thanks to a butcher from outside town that frequently resupplies it like any other vending machine – the local citizens loved the idea since their only other option is located over three kilometres outside town.

The medieval village of Mennetou-sur-Cher was another pioneer, taking advantage of the large tourist flow it gets to sell its typical pig intestine and entrails sausage andouillett, and local made cheeses since the opening hours not always matched to hours with a larger tourist flow into the village, assuring that it would not let down the gastronomical tourists that many times go there on purpose to purchase these artisanal sausages and cheeses. Now they can purchase it at any time of day and night.

In a world that is now awaken during the 24 hours of the day local businesses have been losing ground to large surface supermarkets and shopping centres whose open hours are longer. Innovating is an urging necessity to assure that many of the traditional businesses we remember from our youth, like butcher shops, charcuteries and neighbourhood bakeries or even the small grocery store where we go whenever we find a crucial ingredient is lacking for our supper.

At first these vending machines were seen with suspicion by the customers that throughout their whole lives had chosen their steak cut, their sausages, artisanal cheese or the crunchiest baguette over the counter of the establishments in their neighbourhood or village, but thanks to the convenience of now disposing of these products at any given time of the day, made those customers no longer picturing life without such commodities.

Contacts * Tel: +33 1 43 70 59 04 * Boucherie Basque "l'ami Txulette", 120 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France

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