As noted in our unreasonably popular blog post of 19th November 2013 – Sultans of Ping: Will Austerity Change Our Thirst for Culinary Convenience? – London has become something of a paradigm for culinary cultures defined by convenience and pre-packaged, pre-prepared food.
However, convenience food – which, as writers from George Ritzer to Eric Schlosser have copiously illustrated, might not be as convenient as we believe it to be – is generally of low quality. Outside of Pret a Manger, a sandwich chain in which natural and organic ingredients feature with reasonable prominence, it is difficult to think of any eatery with a serious presence on the UK capital’s high streets which manages to cast more than a faint nod in the direction of better nutrition while also being within the budget range of non-übermenschen; independent cafés which have given serious thought to this matter beyond offering organic teas and coffees are perhaps even rarer.
It is with this in mind that Max Hamburgerrestauranger AB (‘Max Hamburgers’, ‘Max’) represents something novel for convenience-first food cultures. Max Hamburgers is a fast food chain headquartered not a million miles from the Finnish border in Luleå, northern Sweden; it vaunts 86 restaurants in its domestic market and is expanding internationally. Max Burgers has shot to prominence by prioritising things other than speed; while Max does not currently have a presence in the United Kingdom, it is nevertheless poised to revolutionise contemporary Western cuisine:
1. Quality.With a zero GMO, zero trans fats, zero antibiotics and zero growth hormones policy, Max Burgers is successfully competing on qualitative measurements and is changing the very structure and dynamics of its sector.
2. Social Responsibility. With its groundbreaking agreement with Stockholm-based social enterprise Samhall, Max are providing employment to the disabled in a manner that shames many of the more famous brands.
3. Success. A radical approach to health and social responsibility on top of cooked-to-order burgers that come in many different varieties of bread and high-fibre alternatives to french fries sounds like a risky proposition – but Max Burgers has been so successful that it currently enjoys 45% market share in Sweden and has made several branches of McDonald’s, which possesses just 13% market share, unprofitable.