345 million litres of ice-cream are made in France every year. In terms of volume, the household consumption market is dominated by 55% individual specialities (cones, ice pops sticks, etc.) and 36% bulk sorbets and ice cream, the rest consisting of specialities (Christmas logs, etc.). In 2014, the premium ice cream segment generated 124 million euros in sales, and after a sharp decline in 2016 due to poor weather conditions, the market seems to be off to a good start in 2017. Snacking habits are the main source of revenue for ice cream sales during the summer period, at 77%. Ice-cream consumption varies considerably throughout the year and from year to year, depending on weather conditions.
France's trade with the rest of the world is relatively important in the ice-cream and sorbet market. It is worth about 100 million euros, with almost all French purchases coming from other EU members, primarily Italy.
The ice cream industry has almost 400 companies in France, the majority of which are small companies with fewer than 10 employees. However, a few large global groups dominate the market, including the Anglo-Dutch Unilever and the Swiss Nestlé or the American General Mills and Mars. The French players that have succeeded in establishing themselves in the market are the Thiret ice creams, Rolland, Les Délices du Valplessis and La Charlotte. Some artisanal companies such as Erhard, Jampi, the Compagnie des desserts or Philippe Faur have also succeeded in asserting themselves on the market. On the distributors' side, Large and Medium-Sized Supermarkets dominate, accounting for 2/3 of sales.
It is essential for companies in the sector to develop innovation strategies. Today, new products generate around 10% of the turnover of the ice cream department in supermarkets. Innovation, the main means of growth for companies, can take several forms: new flavours, new packaging or new concepts. Another opportunity on the market is the development of organic products, which is difficult for industrial companies and may have an adverse effect on prices. Consumers are looking for both gourmet and high-quality products and are moving towards more natural alternatives. It is an opportunity for high-end ice-cream makers to develop a new product offer: ingredients of better quality, better nutritional values and reduced calorie intake. The Ice cream companies association was also created in 2016 in order to de-seasonalize ice cream and make the market more prosperous, it gathers 70% of the market. Finally, in 2017, the various market players are trying to boost their turnover and generate sales by organising events in stores and targeting children.
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