The French RDWA (Refreshment Drinks Without Alcohol) market amounted to nearly 4.5 billion euros in 2016. Although the market grew strongly from 2010 to 2012 (+50%, growth has been at half mast since then on this market, which even recorded a 3.6% drop in sales volume at the beginning of 2016. The RDWA sector employs 5000 direct employees and 52,900 indirect employees, it concentrates 23 production sites in France and the French overseas departments and territories for a presence in more than 400,000 sales outlets. The RDWA sector represents almost 2% of the total turnover of the agro-food industry.
The decline in growth is partly explained by the tax burden on companies in the sector and the soda tax introduced in 2012. The tax pressure on companies in the sector represents 12.5% of their turnover in 2016.
With a per capita consumption of around 61 litres per year, the French are among the smallest consumers of soft drinks in the European Union, with an average consumption of over 96 litres per year per inhabitant. The French consume half as much RDWA as Belgians (122.4 litres), Germans (130.8 litres) or Austrians (124.9 litres).
A Refreshing Drink Without Alcohol is a drink containing essentially water but also vegetable extracts, fruit juice, sugar or sweeteners, flavours with or without bubbles. A distinction is made between sparkling beverages (78% of the market), still beverages (22%) and sweetened beverages and "no added sugar" beverages.
In France the market is divided as follows: colas (50%), fruit drinks (still and sparkling) (28%), lemonades (9%) teas (8%), flavoured waters (5%), energy drinks (1%). With Orangina, Refresco (Netherlands) and Teisseire in France, three major international groups, Coca Cola, PepsiCO and Cadbury Schweppes, account for nearly 80% of these sales. The Coca Cola group alone accounts for 60% of sales through its Coca-Cola (1170.9 million litres) and Fanta (73 million litres) brands, the PepsiCo group 6% with its Pepsi Cola (98.2 million litres) and Seven Up (38.9 million litres) brands, and finally 5% for the Cadbury Schweppes group, due in particular to Schweppes Indian Tonic (51 million litres) and Gini (22.4 million litres).
Note that the production is 100% French. Even if the names of certain brands are of Anglo-Saxon origin, the RDWAs produced by the major groups are not imported: they are produced in metropolitan France and in the overseas departments and territories.
The French RDWA market has grown by more than 3% since 2010 but now seems to be in decline. The main drivers of development are: the development of low sugar drinks, the use of sweeteners, the diversification of packaging and communication focused on the link with nature. The two categories that focus on the "light" are colas and sodas. In France, as in other countries, the proportion of drinks with sweeteners increased. Light colas represented 27% of colas in 2009, against 24% two years earlier. For soft drinks, the share of light rose from 18% in 2005 to 25% at the end of 2007, a trend that is still on the rise today. Tea drinks and iced teas experienced the strongest growth since 2015 (+6 points), with flavoured waters.
Other areas in growth include innovative dietary products and new smaller packaging that encourage consumption. Although the organic segment is growing, it still represents only 3% of sales in RDWA market values. Manufacturers have developed new products to diversify their range and above all to renew consumer interest. Innovation is applied to advertising, packaging and the nature of the product. The multiplication of formats, and in particular small formats, has opened up a more regular consumption. For example, the number of references has increased for energy drinks marketed in small volumes. This contributed to the price increase in this sector. Innovation is a key growth factor in this market and has thus enabled new players such as Lemonaid Beverages, Vita Coco and Slow Cow to enter the market.
Contrary to popular belief, the consumption of the RDWA occurs mainly at home, under the control of parents. Indeed, according to the "Syndicat National des Boissons Rafîchissantes", 75% of purchases are made in stores, mostly by parents, for home consumption.
Often targeted negatively, soft drinks are perceived as too energetic, containing too much sugar and responsible for obesity. This point of view is debatable and discussed by producers who ensure that the daily consumption of RDWA does not influence the BMI (2) of consumers and that on the contrary RDWA contribute to hydration in addition to water. Nevertheless, "sodas" were credited with an additional tax in 2012 in France. Manufacturers of these drinks must therefore pay a tax for every can or bottle sold in the country. The tax will amount to 7.16 Euros per hectolitre. That is 11 cents for a 1.5 litre bottle or 2.4 cents for a 33 centilitre can.
(1) source: Syndicat National des Boissons Rafraîchissantes
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