Mintel: coronavirus spurred French consumer toward local and functional foods

25 May 2020

After two months of strict confinement in France, market insights firm Mintel discovered that French consumer preferences have shifted to favor both local products and functional foods in a more pronounced manner than before the government enacted quarantine measures.

Prior to the pandemic sweeping through the country, Mintel found that 39% of consumers already placed strong import on supporting local agriculture production and farmers. However, the market study showed that during the lockdown 27% more French residents did their shopping at local retailers.

Mintel: coronavirus spurred French consumer toward local and functional foods

This transition to favoring local farmers with their pocketbooks is noteworthy. In 2019, a report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service noted that local markets and neighborhood shops comprised only 25% of the country’s retail food market. However, the report noted that the largest of the French retailers were already investing in smaller stores in city centers as French consumers were steadily diversifying their purchases and introducing more locally-sourced products.

In an analysis report by Kantar from earlier this year, the insights company noted that organic, local and ‘Made in France’ labels have become major drivers for companies looking to grab the attention of French consumers.

The pandemic catalyzed this transition toward local products, with Caroline Roux, a Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel telling Food Navigator that this transition will also serve to support the national economy by keeping French Euros funding local agricultural enterprises.

The Mintel market report also noted that French consumers are showing a growing interest in functional food and drinks, despite regulatory barriers barring the use of functional claims related to the immune system on packaging. Just over a third (34%) of the French consume these foods that are identified as being beneficial for the immune system, with the demographic between the ages of 45 and 54 showing a particular fondness for these functional products.

Similar to Mintel, the USDA noted the purchase of functional foods is fueled by the country’s aging population and increased health consciousness of consumers.

Despite Mintel reporting that less than 1% of French food and beverage launches having a functional claim tied to the immune system in the past two years, there is a clear interest from French consumers to support their health from the inside.

While these findings by Mintel are based on two months of data, they are an amplification of trends that were building during the past several years. As a result, it is likely that this consumer interest in local foods and functional products will continue to remain a strong trend in the market for the foreseeable future.

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