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French consumers’ tastes in baked goods have started to change, according to research company Euromonitor. The development of baked goods in 2016 confirmed the trend of consuming less, but better. 

By Ioana Oancea

France is well known for its food and part of this heritage includes homemade baked goods, notably cakes. However, with busier life-styles, homemade baked goods are in decline.

With the food scandals and the increase in obesity in France, consumers care more about their health and what they eat. They are more demanding about quality and pay attention to the composition of the products, looking for natural products without additives and that are good for health without foregoing taste. In this context, manufacturers exploited the traditional selling point i.e. “like homemade” and the element of pleasure in their innovations and communications, while mass-market retailers integrated their on-site bakeries to offer more authenticity and freshness to consumers than packaged baked goods, according to Euromonitor International. 

Other trends, as gluten-free, registered the fastest value growth in bread and cakes, in 2016 with respective increases of 31% and 26%. The gluten-free phenomenon concerns a large number of product categories and in particular baked goods.

Average unit price increased by 2% in 2016 to reach EUR4 per kilo. This increase was observed across all categories of baked goods and in both packaged and unpackaged offerings with the development of added-value products: gluten-free, organic, whole-wheat, and high fiber breads. Within packaged baked goods, added-value products compensate for the fierce price competition that was seen in mainstream packaged bread.

While packaged baked goods (bread, cakes, and pastries) continued to take value share from unpackaged baked goods, there was a slowdown in the volume decline of the latter, leading to more positive value growth. Consumer willingness to return to more traditional and authentic products and the development of on-site bakeries at mass-market retailers started the relaunch of unpackaged bread.

Within cakes, independent patisseries emerged based on the new concept of mono-product. These patisseries are selling a single product such as macaroons, chocolate éclairs, or muffins, while offering many variants of the product. These types of pastries add value back into the unpackaged cakes segment. However, both packaged and unpackaged pastries suffered from a decline in both value and volume terms as French consumers consider these baked goods too high in fat and not good for health.

The leading channel is traditional bakeries and patisseries, which continued to decline slightly to reach a value share of 66% in 2016. Traditional bakeries and patisseries are facing growing competition from hypermarkets, supermarkets, and discounters, which are increasingly integrating their own bakeries on-site to offer fresh bread. In addition, the development of a sophisticated offering of packaged bread such as pre-baked baguettes is cannibalizing the traditional channel.

Facts and figures

The consumption of pastries per capita reached 5 kilos and it is forecast to remain constant for 2017 and 2018. French consumers seem to prefer packaged pastries (3.1 kilos per capita), in comparison with unpackaged products (1.9 kilos per capita).

The retail value reached in 2016 EUR2.844.3m and it will steadily grow for the next years EUR2,864.6m (in 2017) and EUR2,894.m (in 2018), according to Euromonitor. As well in terms of volume, the growth won’t be significant for the next two years. The volume reached 320.3 (000 tonnes in 2916), while in 2017 it is predicted to have 321.1, respectively 322.5.

Furthermore, for each categories, packaged and unpackaged pastries, the market will steadily growth in terms of value – from EUR991m (in 2016) to EUR1,017.5m (in 2018), respectively from EUR1.853.2m (2016) to EUR1,877.1m (in 2018).

Companies as Brioche Pasquier SA, Barilla France SA, La Fournée Dorée, Carrefour SA, ITM Entreprises SA, Pain Concept SA, Galec - Centre Distributeur Edouard Leclerc, Auchan France, Les Goûters Magiques SA and Lotus Bakeries France SA are the top ten producers of pastry products in France.

The forecast by 2021

Baked goods are part of the French tradition and will remain so in the forecast period (until 2021) as there is a strong heritage of fine food in France. According to the CREDOC (Centre de Recherche pour l’ Etude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie), bread is consumed by 98% of French consumers and remains a key component of the French meal. The other advantage is that bread can be consumed at the four classic meals that punctuate the day: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. In addition, with the growing concerns about eating a balanced and healthy diet, bread has the advantage of having the image of a natural product that is good for health. Thus, bread consumed for breakfast competes with other products such as breakfast cereals and pastries, which are perceived as less healthy. However, with the changes in lifestyles and despite clear benefits, the French consume less bread at home than in the past and this new behavior is expected to continue.

Despite the expected pressure on the prices of mainstream products, the average unit price of baked goods is expected to rise in the forecast period in line with the development of added-value products.

Independent artisanal bakeries will be threatened by the growth of on-site bakeries in supermarkets, hypermarkets, and discounters like Lidl, which offer consumers fresh bread. The analysts consider that prices are likely to remain stable as there is little chance that traditional bakeries, heavily supported by their trade unions, will want to engage in price wars that will be detrimental to the overall category and small businesses in particular.

Related articles: 

Euromonitor: The future of bread in Europe 

Euromonitor analysis: The gluten-free oats revolution  

Euromonitor International: Global packaged food sales to reach USD 2.9 trillion in 2019 


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