Opportunities are rife within the French confectionery sector for those manufacturers willing to invest in innovation targeted at European consumers, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The report suggests that French consumers are following the global trends for sugar-free, low-carb and functional confectionery and these sectors can be exploited further by non-domestic producers willing to enter the French market.
Confectionery sales in France are valued at $1.4bn (€1.1bn) while chocolate and cocoa products in the country are estimated at $2.7m (€2.07m). Despite health worries and obesity concerns consumption has remained stable over the past ten years with an annual figure of around 3.6kg per capita for confectionery and 1.4kg for cocoa and chocolate products.
Within the confectionery sector, the top-sellers are chewing gum which is estimated at $442m (€340.2m) and children's confectionery with a value of $386m (€297m). In 2005, the sector was dominated by three market leaders: Cadbury, who owns the Malabar brand, Solines, owner of Mentos and Werther's Original and Wrigley, makers of Freedent gum.
Together these companies owned a combined share of 71 per cent but the recent impact of imports - mainly from Belgium, Germany and Spain - has opened up the industry to increased competition.
According to the report, penetrating the market means focusing on key trends.
It states: "As a result of slightly declining birth rates, an increase in the working population and growth in the 'senior' population, the long-term trend for the confectionery and chocolate sectors is towards increasingly sophisticated products with product development and marketing to target the emerging consumer groups, such as working females, parents and those over 60."
Sales of sugar-free and functional products have seen an increase in popularity leading to the decline of traditional sugary options and a greater interest in confectionery more in keeping with the trend for 'well-being'.