Summary of our market study

The global apple market has experienced significant growth, with production increasing by 115% from 1985 to 2020, culminating in a total output of 89 million tonnes in 2020. China remains the dominant producer with a staggering 49% market share, emphasizing its focus on domestic consumption. Competition has intensified with new producers emerging, particularly in the northern hemisphere countries like Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia which benefited from the Russian embargo on European apples in the mid-2010s. European production also saw a 20% increase between 2010 and 2020, reaching over 12 million tonnes in 2021, with Poland producing 3.5 million tonnes and Italy 2.4 million tonnes.

France, despite being a historical leader in apple exports, now struggles with a production decline of more than 20% between 2010 and 2020, and its global ranking dropping to the 10th position in 2020. On the French market, the value fluctuates between 869 million and 3.59 billion euros, exports amassed to 375.4 million euros, and imports to 127.3 million euros in 2021. French apple production is on a downtrend due to several factors such as reduced cultivation area, climate hazards, and decreased yields. Exports also suffered, halving to 350,000 tonnes in 2021 from 700,000 tonnes in 2014, with the main European partners being the UK, Spain, and Germany.

Apple juices and compotes remain dynamic segments, with apple juice constituting 13.5% of the juice market volume in 2021. The rise in prices for apples is reflected in the range of retail prices from 2020 and 2023, for example, Organic Bicolore apples showed an increase from 2.93 to 3.62 euros per kilogram. The French processing industry heavily relies on the quality and origin of apples, balancing domestic and imported produce to manage costs and market demands.

Trends in Apple Consumption and Preferences in France

In France, apples retain their coveted status as the nation's favorite fruit, with a consumption rate of about 16-17 kilograms per household annually. This popularity reflects a market share in volume of nearly 18%, surpassing other fruits like bananas and oranges. A considerable majority (88%) of French households regularly include apples in their diet, revealing an entrenched cultural preference for this versatile fruit. Despite its steady domestic consumption, France's apple market has experienced recent fluctuations. Demand has demonstrated both ascending and descending tendencies, indicating a complex consumer market. Notably, between May 31 and June 20, 2022, there was a significant drop in demand. This decline is possibly related to the diminishing purchasing power of the French, leading to strained destocking efforts for industry players.

French households' apple purchases showcased a slight decrease in volume from 2020 to 2021, while prices remained relatively constant. Consequently, the average expenditure on fresh fruit slightly decreased, moving from 234 euros to a range between 220 and 230 euros per household. Apple varieties such as Golden and Gala resonate particularly well with French tastes, alongside Pink Lady and Granny Smith. However, an increasing focus on organic and high-end products in response to stringent local agricultural regulations and market segmentation strategies has led to rising prices. This trend has resulted in a contraction of the volumes purchased by consumers, who are increasingly sensitive to price considerations.

On the international front, France's apple exports are declining, with volumes more than halving in less than seven years. Its global market share in this domain has also diminished, from 7% to 3.5%. This shift has benefited competitors like Poland and Italy, who now hold a combined global market share of 20%. In response to these challenges, the French apple market is undergoing a transition. Producers are working within a framework that enforces many standards, pushing for a production focus on niche, high-quality market segments. However, high labor costs (representing 40-60% of expenses) and regulatory impacts on yield have positioned French growers on a difficult playing field.

The market for processed apple products, particularly apple juice and applesauce, has been simultaneously burgeoning, pegged for continued growth in the coming years. France is the second-largest market in Europe for apple juice after Germany, and compotes, especially those sold in squeezable pouch formats, have seen notable market growth, with production reaching 400,000 tons .

Dominant Forces in the Apple Market

The apple market, with its diverse offerings and global reach, is a testament to the fruit's enduring popularity. In this competitive arena, several key players have emerged to establish their dominance. These companies play pivotal roles in shaping the market through their production, distribution, processing, and branding strategies.

  • Blue Whale sits among the giants in the fruit station sector, leveraging its extensive network and resources to move vast quantities of apples from farms to the final consumer. With a focus on transformation and quality assurance, Blue Whale ensures that even apples not meeting fresh market criteria find their place in various forms of value-added products.

 

  • Another significant contender, Innantis, formerly known as Pomanjou, stands tall with a broad distribution reach and a keen eye for quality. Their role within the fruit stations echo a similar sentiment to Blue Whale's, reinforcing the importance of quality control and efficient distribution within the sector.

 

  • When it comes to juice production, the landscape reveals a heavy reliance on apples as a primary ingredient. Brands like Innocent, owned by Coca-Cola, and Joker, under the umbrella of Eckes Granini Group, command substantial market shares. These companies have mastered the art of catering to consumer preferences, offering a wide range of juices that span from pure pressed to creatively blended varieties.

 

  • In the territory of apple-based desserts, Materne makes a significant impact with its Pom'Potes brand, particularly within the gourds segment. This company has effectively capitalized on the consumer's inclination toward convenience, prompting a substantial growth in the compote market.

 

  • Meanwhile, Charles & Alice is carving out its own legacy in the acquisition of market share, particularly within the fresh produce section. They balance the complexities of consumer desires for local origins against the pragmatic approach required for ensuring profitability and availability of products for the masses.

As we consider these pivotal market players, it becomes clear that the apple market is a dynamic and multifaceted one, driven by consumer demands, production capabilities, and the strategic positioning of major brands. Their efforts to uphold quality, preserve freshness, innovate in processing, and strategize in marketing all contribute to their influential roles in a market as vast and enduring as that of the apple industry.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

"An apple every morning keeps the doctor away"... Like this famous adage, apples are widely recognized as one of the healthiest foods and a staple of our diet. Available all year round, and consumed both as fresh fruit - in this case table apples - and processed in a wide variety of forms, apples are the most widely consumed fruit in French households, as well as in Chinese and Korean ones.

The apple market includes many varieties, such as Golden, Gala, Pink Lady and Granny Smith. It caters for all budgets, with entry-level apples as well as "top-of-the-range" apples, notably those with PDO or PGI certification.

Worldwide, the apple market is exponential, boosted by the frequent appearance of new producing countries. Indeed, world production increased by 115% between 1985 and 2020. China is the world's leading producer, accounting for half of global apple production with a 49% market share, most of which is destined for its domestic market. To a much lesser extent, it is followed by the United States and Turkey.

French production and exports, meanwhile, haveplummeted since the 1990s, having almost halved. France is less and less competitive and concentrates its production on "top-of-the-range" products, prompting many producers to convert to organic farming. Nevertheless, France is importing more and more, supporting the apple processing industry, a market that is itself growing rapidly.

1.2 Global and European markets

The global market is booming. According to a Senate report, production has risen from ** million tonnes in **** to ** million tonnes in ****. In other words, production has more than doubled (***) in just ** years. China, as the world's leading producer, has made a major contribution to this growth, doubling its output from ** million ...

1.3 The French market

French market value:

Apples have historically been an export-oriented sector of excellence in France, but this market has been experiencing a decline in production for several years. In order to estimate the size of the national market, we will calculate a high and a low estimate.

According to FranceAgriMer, French exports ...

1.4 Balance of trade

France used to be a major apple exporting country. However, export quantities have been falling steadily for several years.

French apple exports France, ****, in thousands of tons Source: ****

This decline in export volume and value is explained by the emergence of new players on the world market with selling prices well ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 A very popular fruit in France and around the world

The apple is France's favorite fruit, the most widely consumed by households, who buy **.* kg a year. The apple has a **.*% market share in terms of volume of fruit purchased, ahead of bananas (***). The penetration rate is very high, with **% of households buying apples at least once a year, according to ...

2.2 Declining demand

Annual household consumption of table apples has shown different trends in recent years.

change in quantities of table apples purchased by households (***) France, ****, in Source: ****

Although the above trend suggests that demand is on the rise, it has very recently plummetedbetween May ** and June **, ****, a situation FranceAgriMer has not seen since ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Value chain

Source: ****

From French or foreign growers to final consumers, the paths taken are varied, with or without processing. The value chain in this sector clearly illustrates the fact that apples from French orchards are all valorized. Indeed, apples that do not meet the criteria of size, firmness or shape required to ...

3.2 Producers in difficulty

In France, *,*** growers are involved in the apple production chain. The number of players involved in the entire value chain, from transport to processing and distribution, is much higher and difficult to quantify. **,*** hectares of agricultural land are used for apple growing, **% of which is reserved for organic farming. By ****, according ...

3.3 Fruit stations and distributors

Fruit stations:

Once the apples have been harvested from the orchards, they arrive at the fruit stations. Their role is to transform the fruit received into marketable products. The process can be summed up in three stages.

The apples are first approved by the fruit station's Quality department. During this stage, ...

3.4 Processing: focus on apple juice

With consumers increasingly looking for products that are convenient (***) and quality, it is highly likely that the volume of apples destined for processing will continue to rise in the coming years, and that the quality of these processes will also increase.

The juice sector is a major market in France, accounting ...

3.5 Processing: focus on applesauce

Apples are also widely consumed in compote form. In fact, in ****, **% of compote production came from apple blends (***) and comes in a variety of formats: jars, jars or gourds, which are driving growth upwards thanks in particular to the Materne group's Pom'Potes.

The compote market is particularly dynamic, growing by **.*% in ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Offer typology

The range of apples on offer in France is extremely varied, with several thousand varieties, and those available for purchase have their own specific prices. The table below shows monthly prices in euros for one kg of apples sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets (***) over the past year.

Source: ****

Prices depend largely ...

4.2 Higher and higher prices

Production difficulties are reflected in prices, which are rising steadily. This can be seen by observing trends in the farm-gate price index (***), which measures changes in the prices of products sold by farmers.

Gross farm-gate price indices, base **** France, **** - ****, in Source : Agreste This trend naturally applies to all apple varieties, ...

4.3 A segmented offering

The French market, positioned on high-end products, therefore targets consumers with high purchasing power. However, although the number of consumers interested in higher-quality products has been increasing for several years and is beginning to stabilize, these buyers consume very small quantities. In fact, **% of households were buying organic produce in ****, but ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Regulations

Apple production in France is subject to numerous regulations.

In particular, there is a specific mandatory marketing standard in accordance with amended EU regulation no. ***/**** Annex * part B. This standard imposes, among other things, classification into different classes (***) and provisions for sizing, presentation, marking, etc.

CEE ONU - FFV - ** (***) is ...

5.2 Designations and certifications

Other tools can be used to certify the origin or quality of apples.

The Appellation d'Origine Protégée (***) is a European sign with value throughout the EU, awarded to a product whose every stage of production respects a recognized know-how in the same geographical area, giving the product its characteristics. ...

6 Positioning the players

6. Segmentation

  • La vie Claire
  • Bio c' Bon
  • Naturalia
  • Biocoop
  • Auchan groupe
  • Casino Groupe
  • E.Leclerc
  • Carrefour Groupe
  • Innocent
  • Joker (Eckes Granini France)
  • Tropicana
  • Andros Groupe
  • Materne (Bel groupe)
  • Charles & Alice
  • Innatis Developpement
  • Blue Whale

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Ranking of the largest apple growers
  • Production of Europe's three largest apple growers
  • National apple production
  • Weight of different fruits in production areas
  • Weight of various fruits in production volumes
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Latest news

Charles & Alice compotes work with arboriculturists - 25/03/2024
  • The fresh produce compote specialist
  • 220 million euros in sales
  • The market for fruit desserts in the refrigerated section is worth close to one billion euros
  • The "no added sugar" segment accounts for around 40% (400 million euros).
Auchan faces another "difficult" year in 2023 - 22/02/2024
  • -Auchan net loss in 2023: 379 million euros
  • - Previous year's profit: 33 million euros
  • - Auchan's position in the French retail sector: 5th
  • - Revenue in 2023: down 1.7% to 32.9 billion euros
  • - Share of hypermarkets in Auchan's store base: 21%
  • - Acquisition of Casino stores by Auchan and Intermarché: 70 supermarkets, 26 hypermarkets, including five larger than 9,000 m2, and two drives
Casino: Intermarché and Auchan win the bid - 18/12/2023
  • Casino: Intermarché, which had joined forces with Auchan to buy the 320 stores, finally won the bid.
  • The value of the transaction would be close to 1.6 billion euros, or 37% of the sales taken over (3.6 billion euros).
  • A social issue
  • In addition to the takeover of dozens of supermarkets and hypermarkets, Carrefour PROPOSED to take over 7,000 convenience stores under the Petit Casino, Vival and other banners. This possibility was rejected by Casino and its receivers
  • Intermarché has opened up its internal rules for independent groups to franchising, to accommodate the 60 Casino franchisees.
  • Intermarché and Auchan will share the 313 outlets sold in roughly equal parts, with Auchan taking over almost all of the 42 hypermarkets.
  • Monoprix and Franprix will remain under Groupe Casino control
Auchan: New Beginnings - 06/12/2023
  • Gérard Mulliez founded Auchan in 1961.
  • Auchan hypermarkets account for 80% of the company's sales.
  • Auchan's market share has fallen from over 10% five years ago to 8.4% today.
  • Failed attempt by the Mulliez family to take over Carrefour in October 2021.
  • Auchan and Intermarché are looking to form a product purchasing alliance, which would give them a combined market share of 30%.
  • Auchan and Intermarché have been trying to share nearly 300 hypers and supermarkets that Casino is due to sell.
80 Carrefour hypermarkets operated under franchise or leasing agreements - 14/11/2023
  • On October 20, Carrefour announced its intention to switch 37 stores (comprising 15 hypermarkets and 21 supermarkets) to lease management.
  • Since 2018, 80 hypermarkets have left integrated status, representing around a third of all hypermarkets.
  • Around 75% of supermarkets (784 out of 1038) are currently leased or franchised.
Distribution: Biocoop capitalizes on its pricing strategy | Biocoop: a winning pricing strategy - 25/10/2023
  • Biocoop's sales represent 43.8% of the market for specialist organic stores.
  • Eight new Biocoop outlets have opened since the beginning of the year. Source: Circana.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

La vie Claire
Bio c' Bon
Naturalia
Biocoop
Auchan groupe
Casino Groupe
E.Leclerc
Carrefour Groupe
Innocent
Joker (Eckes Granini France)
Tropicana
Andros Groupe

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