Food Trends in France: Category Growth Drivers

Explore how the food and beverage categories in France are developing

June 21, 2024 –  The French food and beverage industry is dynamic, and constantly changing to meet the needs and desires of consumers. From the rise of plant-based options to the growing importance of clean labels and sustainable sourcing, here we provide a comprehensive overview of the French market. We explore the impact of budget constraints, health concerns, and the enduring appeal of traditional French ingredients and methods.

Beverage Trends

French consumers are increasingly seeking healthier beverage options, with many becoming interested in non-alcoholic alternative drinks. This trend is driven by a desire to control alcohol intake, with 43% of French consumers citing this as the primary reason for reducing their alcohol consumption. However, taste is still a key consumer demand when choosing alcoholic beverages and should be at the heart of efforts to stem any shift away from the category. On the other hand, increased consumption of non-alcoholic alternatives is driven by brand and product awareness, as well as cost, freshness, and claims of tradition and premium quality.

In soft drinks, bottled water consumption is on the rise, with 1 in 2 consumers citing its healthy image as a key driver. Energy drink and iced coffee consumption is also on the rise. In energy drinks, increased promotional activity is especially impactful for French consumers, while in iced coffee, taste is important, as is sugar reduction, premium quality, and functioning ingredients.

While taste remains paramount, budget concerns are impacting some beverage categories. For instance, decreasing juice intake is largely attributed to budget constraints, highlighting the importance of affordability in this segment.

Hot tea demand is growing faster than coffee in France, with health cited as the top reason for increased consumption. Plant-based claims are uniquely pivotal in France with hot tea products. Over one third of French consider plant-based claims as important for hot tea, compared to the global average of 12%.

Everyday Staple Food Trends

French consumers are largely maintaining their consumption of everyday staple foods, with bread and cereals seeing relatively stable demand. Naturalness and tradition are key motivators for bread purchases, and for those increasing their intake, tradition and natural ingredients over-index the global average as a motivator.

While the overall consumption of protein sources like meat and fish has remained relatively constant, there is a notable focus on sourcing and health-related claims. French consumers are particularly interested in local and traceable meat. However, they care less about health claims than the global average, with 20% of French consumers citing protein claims as influential, compared to the 33% global average. Sourcing and traceability are also key in fish products.

In terms of dairy products, food trend research shows that yogurt consumption is slightly increasing, driven by taste and cost considerations. Cheese penetration is notably higher in France at 86% compared to the global average of 77%. French consumers are also showing a strong interest in traditional and natural dairy products, with traceability being an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

Food Trends in France

Meal Preparation Food Trends

In France, the meal preparation category is seeing a positive shift, with consumers increasingly seeking convenient solutions. A 3% increase in consumption of bouillons, stocks, and seasonings reflects a growing interest in enhancing home-cooked meals. This trend is further supported by a 5% increase in the consumption of savory spreads, and a 13% increase in dips consumption.

French consumers are particularly drawn to healthy options within this category. While health concerns are impacting the uptake of sauces, consumers are actively seeking out healthier alternatives. This is evident in the high interest in health-related claims such as palm oil free and sugar/fat reduction. Furthermore, taste remains a key driver, with food trend research showing that French consumers seek variety and novelty in their meal preparation foods.

Snacks and Treats Trends

French consumers are increasingly health-conscious when it comes to snacks and treats, with taste and budget being key considerations regarding these foods. They over-index the global average of consumption most in the desserts and ice cream subcategory (69% vs. 61%).

The top concern for chocolate consumers is budget, highlighting the need for affordable options. Made with real ingredients and free from artificial flavors and colors are important claims influencing purchase decisions in the category as a whole. Fiber is also a desirable claim, particularly for consumers increasing their intake of cereal and energy bars.

A notable food trend is the strong preference for palm oil free snacks and treats in France, ranking as the top consideration across 3 out of 7 subcategories. This demonstrates a significant shift in consumer attitudes towards palm oil, exceeding global averages.

Overall, French consumers are looking for snacks and treats that are both tasty and healthy, with a focus on natural ingredients, clean labels, and reduced sugar and fat content. This presents an opportunity for brands to innovate with healthier options that meet these evolving demands.

Plant-Based and Special Diet Food Trends

Plant-based dairy alternatives are slightly lagging in the French market, with penetration rates for yogurt and milk alternatives lower than the global average. However, food trend research demonstrates a notable increase in the consumption of plant-based cheese, driven by a desire for variety and health-conscious choices.

Organic and non-GMO claims are important for French consumers when purchasing plant-based dairy products. While non-GMO claims are the top driver for cheese consumers, organic claims are more influential for milk and yogurt.

Sports nutrition is another area where French consumers are showing interest in plant-based foods. However, health-related claims, such as high fiber and protein content, are more important than the plant-based aspect.

What’s Next in Food Trends in France?

The French food and beverage market is ripe for innovation, with consumers seeking greater variety, novelty, and excitement.

Taste and tradition is highly important for French consumers. Leveraging familiar tastes and regional recipes is therefore key for brands. Bringing traditional, local, and artisanal flavors into mainstream packaged food and beverage offerings will likely resonate with consumers.

French consumers are also increasingly drawn to clean simple formulations and natural production methods. Highlighting wholesome ingredients and avoiding artificial additives can help draw consumers towards these products.

Finally, while health is an important food trend for French consumers, it often takes a backseat to taste. However, there is a growing demand for healthier choices, particularly in everyday staples and treats. Focusing on sugar and fat reduction, as well as added functionality, will appeal to this segment.

Overall, French consumers are looking for innovative products that combine familiar tastes with clean labels and a focus on health. By understanding these key trends, brands can position themselves for success in the years to come.


This article is based on our report, “Category Growth Drivers in France.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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