Changing Trends in France's Bread Industry

Anna Ryan, Meat Department, Bord Bia- Irish Food Board 

France has recently seen a change in consumption habits within their bread industry, with consumers moving away from the traditional French baguette, to speciality and packaged bread products such as bagels, tortilla wraps and pita breads.

The change seen is largely caused by changes in the lifestyles of French consumers. Packaged breads enjoy a longer shelf life than baguettes, so the long-lasting convenience appeals to the large working population in France. Many people no longer have the time to pick up fresh baguettes every day, and so substitute them with packaged alternatives.

Lunchtime habits are also changing. According to The Economist, meals are giving way to “le snacking”, especially among young people. A poll by Doing Good, Doing Well suggests that 31% of French people are now taking 15 minutes or less for their lunch, with similar numbers skipping meals during the day. With the French leading quite busy lifestyles, bread products which can be prepared the night before are appealing. By consequence, sandwiches are on the rise, with over 2 billion being sold in France in 2014. A third of these are now made using sliced bread, not baguettes.

The market for bread in France is worth €500 million per year, according to market research firm XERFI. Mintel reports that the market for bread has remained buoyant in France and that, by contrast, bread consumption in similar markets such as the UK and Germany has declined. This is not due to the French eating more bread, but because total consumption has been maintained by consumers trying packaged breads.

According to Mintel, tortillas are the most popular speciality bread in France, with 15% of bread consumers eating them. This is followed by flatbreads (10%) and bagels (9%). Younger consumers are almost twice as likely to eat tortilla wraps and bagels.

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