When it comes to shopping for fruit and vegetables in France, French consumers are increasingly recognising the positives of organic produce. Indeed, commitment to organic market development is evidenced by the high proportion of fruit and vegetable new product development in France carrying an organic claim.

Nearly a quarter of the fruit and vegetable products introduced in France between 2012 and 2014 carried an organic claim, compared to just over a fifth in Germany, 8% in Italy and 5% in the UK and Spain. In fact, France was the most active country in Europe in terms of organic fruit and vegetable new product development between 2012 and 2014.

Food safety and environmental concerns drive popularity

French consumers are the most concerned about the food safety of fruits and vegetables in Europe, with two thirds citing the concern. When it comes to usage of organic fresh fruit and vegetables, it is younger consumers and households with children who prove the most keen – likely motivated by the perception that organic produce is a safer choice for kids.

In fact, about half of French consumers with children in the household agree that organic products are safer because they do not use pesticides. Environmental concerns also factor in organic product choices, with about half of French consumers agreeing that they are better for the environment, rising to 54% of consumers with children in the household.

Interestingly, a smaller cohort, just one-fifth of consumers, agrees that organic fruit and vegetables are more nutritious and only a third agree that organic produce is worth paying more for. However, adults in households with children are significantly more likely than those in households without children to agree that organic produce is worth paying more for and that it is nutritionally superior.

This suggests that there are opportunities to increase organic fruit and vegetable product uptake in France by catering to younger consumers and households with children. Product communication efforts should place an emphasis on the environmental and safety advantages that organic products have over conventionally raised products. Product marketing should consider alignment with programs that support environmental issues.

Convenience drives shopping and cooking habits

Culinary traditions are evolving in France, driven by longer working hours, more women working and growth in single-person households. It is unsurprising therefore that more than four in 10 consumers now claim to choose easy, quick to prepare food for weekday meals. Convenience also plays a role for about half of French consumers when it comes to choosing vegetables, proving more important still for adults in households with children. Packaging for snacking can also be a motivator for younger consumer to purchase prepared fruits and vegetables.

Frozen formats have become more prevalent in France, seeing almost a 10% increase in launches from 2012 to 2014, catering to about half of French consumers who believe frozen foods are as nutritious and as fresh. Yet organic chilled fruit and vegetable options targeting convenience seekers and snackers, such as bagged salads and ready-to steam packaged vegetables have not been fully explored in France. In order to move the organic sector forward French produce manufacturers should consider development of fresh chilled value-added organic produce.

Overall, the outlook for organic fruit and vegetables remains positive in France as organics enjoy a safe reputation and are considered more environmentally friendly. Brands can emphasise these key positive attributes in order to support increased uptake of organics. As convenience plays an increasing role in the consumer decision process, adapting products to cater to easy and convenient meal preparation will be well accepted by younger consumers and those with children.

Patty Johnson, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, leverages her in-depth knowledge of consumer trends to bring keen, insightful and forward-thinking strategies and tactics to Mintel’s client base. She has built a strong reputation within the food industry by publishing articles in key publications and giving presentations at multiple food industry events and conferences.

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