© Claire Tillier
France’s leading 100% organic brands Biocoop, Naturalia and La Vie Claire performed very well in 2019, thanks to continued store openings and increasingly aggressive communication. However, smaller brands are suffering from the increasingly fierce competition.
According to a study published by Les Échos Études on the distribution of organic food products in France, a steady growth rate is predicted over the next five years. Enthusiasm for organic products remains strong, as has been the case for the past decade, during which the market for organic products registered double-digit annual growth. Organics are now firmly part of the habits of French consumers, with 47% of them being regular consumers of organic products in 2019, compared to 37% in 2015.
The strengthening of eco-responsible practices during the Covid-19 crisis has benefited the organic sector, with strong growth recorded across all distribution channels. Organic foods attracted 8% more new buyers during the lockdown period (source: Spirit Insight study for Agence Bio). However the economic downturn could dampen this enthusiasm, with the risk of price battles. The economic consequences of the health crisis are leading to more polarised consumption patterns, with consumers torn between the need to save money and a desire for more responsible and healthy consumption.
The French organic market is dominated by large-scale retailers and specialist organic stores. But in recent years, supermarkets have taken market share from the 100% organic brands. The organic range on offer in supermarkets has grown considerably. In 2019, large-scale retail accounted for nearly 55% of revenues generated from sales of organic food products. Meanwhile, the major retailers have also strengthened their position in the specialist organic channels through their own brands, launching new concepts such as Casino Bio at the end of 2019 or Le Marché Bio Leclerc in 2018, or by buying out existing players, as in the case where Carrefour took over So.bio in 2018 and Bio c’ Bon in 2020. As of 2019, 17% of France’s specialist organic stores were owned by major retailers.