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produit en france

Food and Beverage: Choose France

France is the world’s seventh largest industrialized economy and the EU’s second largest economy after Germany. It has substantial agricultural resources and maintains a strong manufacturing sector. France’s dynamic services sector accounts for an increasing share of economic activity and has been responsible for most job creation in recent years.

READ MORE France, de-consumption of wine

There was a significant economic contraction across sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 8.3 percent contraction in GDP in 2020 from 2019 made it the worst recession since World War II. Prior to the pandemic super and hypermarket growth was declining, nationwide lockdown and closing of restaurants resulted in an increase retail food sector sales. Ordering on-line picking-up at the store, also known as Click and Collect or E-drive, sales rose 40% in 2020 and represented 7.8 percent of retail food sales.

Food patriotism is growing since the crisis began with messages of Buy French popular among government officials and the media. French President’s speeches have highlighted the need for food sovereignty at the French and EU level. However, France relies on exports of agricultural products and enjoys a large surplus in their trade balance with exports such as wine and wheat where it is the leading EU exporter.

France Economy Indicators

France’s retail distribution network: diverse and sophisticated

The food retail sector is generally comprised of seven types of establishments:

1) hypermarkets, 2) supermarkets, 3) hard discounters, 4) convenience stores, 5) gourmet centers in department stores, and 6) traditional outlets including neighborhood stores – bakeries and butcheries, 7) gas marts, as well as open-air markets and internet sales.

In 2020, sales within the first four categories represented 75% of the country’s retail food market. Over the last ten years, the largest French retailers invested in smaller stores in city centers.

Major Retailers:
1. Carrefour: After having been the world second largest retailer after Walmart, and the largest in Europe for several years, since 2016 the French group now ranks seventh. Carrefour has supermarkets, convenience and city center stores, all under the name of Carrefour (Carrefour Market, Carrefour Express, Carrefour City, etc.) depending on their location.
2. E. Leclerc: Since 2016, the company has remained the top retailer in France. Most of its stores are hypermarkets. Leclerc is present in Europe and sources food products through its central buying office.
3. Intermarché: This is a group of independents retailers with stores in Europe and foreign countries: Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia and China. Most of Intermarché’s outlets are supermarkets; there are a few city center stores and only 94 hypermarkets.
4. Groupe Auchan: This is a family company owned by the Mulliez family and the Schiever Group. Auchan is present in 12 countries.

France Consumer Oriented Goods

5. Systeme U: This is the fourth largest retailer in France in terms of sales and the sixth largest retailer in terms of stores. U brand private label expansion is a priority for the products such as wine, fruit juices, frozen ready-to-eat foods, ethnic foods and seafood.
6. Casino Group: is present in France, and in South America. Casino has Monoprix, Franprix, Petit Casino, Casino Shop, Vival, Spar, and Chez Jean. Casino’s hard discounters Leader Price representing about 20 percent of the total hard discounters in France, are in the process of being sold to the German hard discount Aldi.
7. Cora: The retailer is part of the Belgium group Louis Delhaize and has hypermarket/supermarket stores in France and Europe. Cora buys products through Provera their Central Buying Office that sources food products from importers.
8. Grand Frais: this is a network of 244 small to medium stores. Created in the 1990s to offer consumers the best quality at moderate prices for fruits and vegetables, fish, world food groceries, butcher-delicatessen and dairy products, Grand Frais’ total sales in 2020 were estimated over $3 million. Grand Frais works directly with importers.

France Consumer Oriented Products

The number of smaller and independent stores has slightly increased since 2002. Most of them are specialized food outlets (bakeries, butchers and fish shops, groceries), and they are located both in urban and rural areas. While neighborhood stores in rural areas tended to decrease in number, they have increased in urban areas. The French National Economic Statistics (INSEE) most recent census indicated 78,000 stores. Their sales represent about 20% of the French food sales and their products are sourced from wholesalers and wholesale markets. Customers of neighborhood stores are generally medium to high-class consumers.

Other Type of Retailers:
Picard Surgeles is the leading frozen food retailer in France for home consumption, with a 30% market share, 1100 outlets throughout France and sales in 2019 valued at $1.7 billion. Picard sells high-end frozen products and offers opportunities for suppliers of fish and seafood, frozen fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, and prepared specialty meals for their private label. Picard works directly with importers.
Place du Marché-Toupargel was the second largest frozen food retailer in France after Picard and the leader for frozen food home deliveries, before Thiriet, Maximo and Argel. In 2019, the company diversified half frozen and half fresh produce including organic. Frozen food sales are still home delivery throughout France through orders via internet. In 2020, Toupargel sales of frozen foods amounted to $227 million, and offers opportunities primarily for suppliers of fish and seafood.
Biocoop is a network of specialized organic, fair trade and ecological products including food and non-food products. Biocoop has 623 stores throughout France and total sales in 2020 amounted to $1.8 billion. Biocoop sources its products through different buying offices.

Food expenditures: 20% of the overall budget

The household food basket is now primarily composed of processed and ready-to-eat foods while the demand for meat, fruits and vegetables, bread and alcoholic beverages has decreased. The increase of household purchasing power, fluctuation in food prices, and changing lifestyles have contributed to the changes in food habits.

In 2020, the overall retail food sales in France were estimated to $387 billion. Hyper/supermarkets and hard discounters sell about $242 billion; neighborhood stores, including traditional grocers, $113 billion; and specialized food stores such as frozen food stores, organics and open-air markets, $32 billion.
Generally, hyper/supermarkets remain the most popular stores, but specialized food stores, frozen food stores, and hard discounters have increased their retail sector market share in recent years. Other trends of note are that French consumers are diversifying their purchases through several stores, for example buying some products locally and others from discount stores that may be farther from their residence.

Fruit and Nuts: Spain, Netherlands and Belgium are EU countries and price competitive as well as geographically close. Italy mainly supplies grapes, while Spain has a wider range of fruits to offer including citrus. Turkey and Israel also supply citrus to France. U.S. exports to France increased 21% over last year.
Locally, there is marginal local production at nuts and citrus and no tropical fruits. France does produces walnut primarily for domestic production. France is an attractive market for U.S. dried fruits and nuts, but the competition is tough for citrus products.

In addition, consumers are more price sensitive and demanding of high-quality products. Since several years, the large retailers’ emerging “drive-thru” service was on the rise, but this year with the sanitary crisis and the nationwide lockdown this service represented about 8% of total retailer’s food sales at the end of February 2021, or a volume increase of about 40% compared to 2019. In addition, large retailers are expanding their private labels offered.

Fish and Seafood: Norway and Sweden dominate the market. But export share is shrinking. U.K. is becoming a major player. The U.S. ranks fourth and exports increased by 42% in volume over previous year.
Local resources for fish and seafood do not satisfy increasing demand. The United States is a major supplier to France, especially for frozen pollock, cod and salmon, live lobsters, frozen rays, dogfish and scallops.

Preparations of fruits, vegetables, nuts, including jams, fruit purees and
fruit juices: Belgium & Netherlands dominates the market with preparation of vegetables and other than tomatoes. Spain supplies France with prepared fruits, fruit juices, and nuts. Spain and Brazil also export fruit juices to France.
There are approximately 1,100 local companies in the sector of canned fruits and vegetables, including a few major groups and regional canners. France is not a producer of fruit juices except for a few home-style/small-scale production products.

Prepared foods including sauces, condiments, seasonings, mustards and ice creams: Germany, Belgium and Italy dominate the market with sauces/condiments/seasonings and mustards. Italy supplies soups, and ice creams. Most of the imports from the United States are food preparations, sauces, dressings and ice cream.
Demand for interesting natural or exotic flavors as well as health and wellness products should provide opportunities for U.S. suppliers of sauces/ condiments/seasonings.

Cereals: Italy dominates the market with rice, followed by Germany and Spain. Belgium and Netherlands reshipping corn and rice. The United States ranks sixteenth among cereal suppliers to France. U.S. exports are mainly corn and rice.

Beverages, including wines, spirits and alcohols: Belgium, the UK and Italy dominate the market with beer, branded spirits, and wine respectively. U.S. sales of bourbon and wine dropped, impacted by the retaliatory tariffs.
France is world’s largest whiskey consumer and also wine producer with Italy. However, a niche market exists in France for third country wines.

Edible vegetables, Pulses: China supplies with all varieties of pulses, while Canada supplies
mainly beans and lentils. The United States supplies mainly beans and lentils.
France’s production of pulses represents 25% of total domestic need.

Oilseeds and Oleaginous Fruits: Canada sales in value increased by 110% over a year thanks to the new trade agreement while US soybeans and seeds sales increased 34% in volume.
France is a net soybean importer. The United States has traditionally been one of its major suppliers but CETA, the new EU/Canada trade agreement is challenging for US sales.


Exporters can gain market entry to the retail service sectors in several ways including representation by an importer, having their products placed in a central purchasing office catalog and by selling to cash and carry outlets. Food buyers use central buying offices, importers and cash and carry dealers to procure their products.
The most common method of market entry is by using an experienced importer to place your product in the French market. The importer will verify that your product meets EU import requirements, such as labeling and ingredient regulations and will verify your financial reliability. If interested, the importer will engage in price negotiations. Both supplier and importer need to discuss logistical requirements and the length of the contract.

Importers often place your product with retail stores and with central purchasing offices. In France, it is common for large retailers to participate in a central purchasing office to share the costs of purchase and distributors. The central purchasing office buys products directly as well as from importers and distributors and provides them to the retail outlets.
In order to present a product to a central buying office, a supplier should:

  • Submit product description and price quotations;
  • Submit products for laboratory testing;
  • Determine sanitary/health certification and other import documents requirements.

Labels should be in French with the following information:

  • Product definition;
  • Shelf life: indicated “used by” and “best before” dates and other storage requirements;
  • Precautionary information or usage instructions, if applicable;
  • Statement of contents: ingredients, weights, volumes, etc., in metric units. All additives, preservatives and color agents must be noted on the label with a specific group name or “E” number;
  • Country of origin and name of importer or vendor within the EU;
  • Manufacturer’s lot or batch number.