5 Agrifood Trends to Watch
The food market in France is a solid and mature market. The annual turnover of the French agrifood industry, €200 billion, illustrates this strength.
The maturity of the French agrifood market may give the impression that, in the end, growth is weak and that all the seats are already taken.
But this ignores the natural growth of the market and changes in consumer expectations and eating habits, which offer new development prospects for the players in the sector.
Indeed, several underlying trends are now unavoidable. These trends are helping to reshape the landscape of the French food industry. They are also fueling innovation at the ecosystem level.
In this article, we present 5 agrifood trends to watch if you have an investment project in the agrifood industry.
A strong interest in organic products
The French organic food market has grown by leaps and bounds since the early 2010s.
Household spending on organic food products has risen from €3.7 billion in 2010 to €13.2 billion in 2020. It has therefore almost doubled in 5 years, between 2015 and 2020, and accounted for 6.5% of household food expenditure by the end of that period.
Although the pandemic has led to a significant drop in the purchase of organic products by out-of-home food service companies, the outlook for the sector remains bright.
Not only does the restaurant business look set to return to normal, but also the EGALIM law, which sets an goal of 20% organic products for mass catering, should support the growth of the sector.
In 2020 , fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy products will account for more than half (56%) of the organic retail market. However, the strongest growth is in processed products. For instance, organic beers saw 33% growth in 2020. Organic frozen foods increased by 30%. Finally, the growth of organic grocery products reached 17%.
Despite the high demand, the import rate of organic products remains stable. Except when it comes to tropical products, the French prefer responsible sourcing and production in their own country.
Organic farmland has doubled in 5 years. With 2.5 million hectares, organic farming now represents 9.5% of French hectares farmed.
Made in France: A guarantee of quality to consumers
The origin of food products is an key factor in selection for the French. According to a 2019 IFOP study, 90% of respondents say that the French origin of food products matters much more than for any other type of product.
Although pandemic-related economic uncertainties have heightened the importance of the “price” criterion, the Made in France label remains an underlying trend. In an OpinionWay study, 61% of those surveyed say they have been buying products made in France more often since the pandemic began, and 96% plan to consume as much of them or more in the future. Here again, food and beverages are at the top of the list of products for which “made in France” is favored.
For consumers, the “made in France” label has several benefits:
- Product traceability
- A guarantee of quality and know-how
- The feeling of helping to sustain local economic activity and employment
Consumers’ appetite for “made in France” products also addresses a desire to consume in an environmentally responsible manner, by favoring local supply chains and responsible sourcing.
Finally, “made in France” also brings added value to exports. Products made in France are recognized internationally for their quality. This is particularly true for food products, which benefit from the positive image of French cuisine abroad.
The label “Made in France” is for us an undeniable advantage. In the French market, this is obvious. For the Asian market [Editor’s note: the Asian market represents 30% of the output of the Häagen-Dazs site in Arras], the fact that we make premium ice cream in France enhances its image as a quality product.
David Caron, Director of the General Mills – Häagen-Dazs site in Arras
Nutritional qualities are central to consumer concerns
Nutrition remains a strong trend in the global agrifood market. Consumers are increasingly looking for foods that contribute to a healthy diet. Many of them prefer, if possible, foods with less fat, less sugar, etc.
Agrifood professionals are seizing on this trend. Over the last few years, we have seen a proliferation of labels indicating products that are GMO-free, gluten-free, contain less salt, less sugar, no additives, no added colors (or only natural colors), hams “without nitrites”, wines “without added sulphites”, etc.
Transparency is now the order of the day for agrifood companies, especially since apps such as Yuka, to name one, make it easy for consumers to get information on the products ingredients and their impact on health.
In France, the government is supporting this development through the introduction of the Nutri-Score, which helps consumers quickly identify a product’s nutritional qualities.
A strong CSR requirement
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is an approach that consists of integrating social and environmental issues into a company’s commercial activities and relationships.
It offers a different and complementary reading and analysis grid to that of the financial performance of companies. The very nature of agrifood activities implies consumer CSR demands.
We have already pointed out the desire for environmentally responsible consumption – and therefore production. This trend has several aspects, including respect for agricultural and territorial best practices, and limiting waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
CSR also includes social issues: quality of life at work, relations with the ecosystem of suppliers and subcontractors.
McCain’s CSR commitments
As the world’s leading producer of potato-based food products, McCain is also a major player in the food industry in the Hauts-de-France region; tthe company’s European headquarters are located in Harnes, and McCain has two factories in the region (Harnes and Béthune).
Loyal to its family culture and close to its producers, McCain is committed to farmers and the environment. The company is particularly involved in the World Forum for a Responsible Economy. In its recent Global CSR Report, McCain highlights four commitments: Smart & sustainable farming; resource-efficient operations; good food; and thriving communities.
As Erwin Pardon, McCain’s CEO for Europe, says, these commitments echo the brand’s values: Family, Authenticity, Quality, and Trust.
Players in the agrifood industry must now manage their CSR objectives in a formalized, consistent manner.
The development of the vegetarian and vegan markets
The vegan and vegetarian trend is booming. According to BPI France, 40% of French people want to eat more plant-based products.
Veganism has its origins in a strong sensitivity to animal welfare. For many consumers, ecological considerations are also a factor in their decision to eat less meat. Indeed, livestock farming – and intensive livestock farming in particular – is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Although only 4% of French people say they are vegetarians, many consumers opt for a flexitarian diet, reducing their meat-eating in favor of plant-based alternatives.
The development of plant proteins for human consumption addresses these new dietary behaviors and opens up new avenues for players in the agrifood industry.
“The demand for plant-based foods, and in particular plant proteins, is booming. […] We have already invested in two pea protein production sites: one in Europe (Vic-Sur-Aisne, in Hauts-de-France) and one in North America (Manitoba, Canada). Their combined pea processing capacity will be the largest in the world.”
Jean-Philippe Azoulay, Vice President of the Peas and New Proteins Sector, Roquette
Ecological and social issues have a strong impact on what consumers expect from the agrifood industry.
The five trends we have highlighted in this article overlap, and reflect a desire to eat better, healthier and more responsibly. Agrifood industry players must absolutely take these expectations into account in order to innovate and invest in the sectors of the future.
Want to know how France and the Hauts-de-France region are dealing with these issues? Read our white paper on the domestic agrifood industry.