Summary of our market study

French cheese market estimated at between €8 and €9 billion

The French cheese market is showing modest growth, largely attributed to the impact of the pandemic and market innovations.

France maintains a positive export balance, with 1.6 times more cheese exports than imports in 2021, mainly to Germany (23%), Belgium (14%) and the UK (8%).

The global cheese market, valued at over US$72 billion in 2020, is expected to reach US$106 billion in 2026, with a CAGR of 5.37%.

In France, cow's milk cheeses dominate domestic production (91.7%), while the organic and PDO cheese segments are experiencing growth. Sales of organic cheeses rose by 13% in value and 11.4% in volume in 2020.

During the Covid-19 crisis, cheese production in France fell by 1.8%.

Demand trends

France is renowned as the "land of cheese". There are over 1,200 types of cheese in France. Consumption exceeds 25 kilos per person per year. Household consumption rose by around 12% between 2017 and 2020.

The French have a preference for certain types of cheese. Pressed cooked cheeses, such as Comté, top the list in terms of purchase value, followed by pressed uncooked and soft cheeses. Cow's milk cheeses are particularly popular, followed by goat's milk varieties.

People over 50 are the main cheese consumers.

Consumer demand is also gradually shifting towards organic cheeses. Sales of these products have grown significantly, particularly organic goat's milk cheeses.

This trend reflects a wider societal shift in favor of organic food products, even if price remains an obstacle for some consumers.

The big French brands dominate, with key players such as Lactalis, Bel and Savencia Fromage & Dairy. These major brands dominate supermarket cheese sales.

French cheese market players

  • Lactalis Group - global dairy giant.

  • Savencia Cheese & Dairy Foodservice - formerly known as Bongrain, Savencia is another major player in the French cheese market.

  • Groupe Bel - is renowned for its accessible, family-friendly cheese products, with iconic brands such as La Vache qui Rit, Mini Babybel and Boursin.

  • Carrefour, Auchan, Leclerc, Intermarché, Franprix and all the major retailers offer private labels and control a significant share of the market.

  • La Cloche à fromage: a name that evokes authenticity.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

The cheese market in France can be segmented into two main categories:

  • Natural cheese, made from natural, fresh and high quality ingredients;
  • Processed cheese, made from natural cheese to which emulsifiers (two insoluble liquids), sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, sorbic acid (preservative), enzymes, etc. are added.sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, enzymes, vitamin D3, milk fat, extra salt, saturated vegetable oils, whey and artificial food coloring are added.

Processed cheese has a longer shelf life than natural cheese in cheese shops and supermarkets. With nearly 400 types listed, France is the country of cheese par excellence in the world.

Cheese manufacturing is a concentrated sector dominated by a handful of players, such as Bel or Entremont for example (1/3 of the French cheese market). The other major players in the market are either family-owned groups (Bongrain specializing in milk processing), cooperative groups, or dairy producers such as Lactalis.

The French are among the leading consumers of cheese in the world with more than 25 kg/inhabitant per year. The development of mass distribution to the detriment of local shops has weakened the artisanal products sold in local cheese factories and the majority of the cheese marketed is now industrially produced. This has favored the emergence of new players such as Carrefour in the distribution and production of private label cheese. The harmonization of sanitary rules imposed by Brussels is also a boon for industrial cheese.

In terms of foreign trade, the French trade balance is positive, the Hexagon exports in 2021 1.6 times more than it imports cheese. Its main export customers are Germany with 23% of total French exports, then Belgium (14%) and the United Kingdom (8%).

However, the volatility of world prices for industrial dairy products weakens the profitability of manufacturers: to counter these economic hazards and gain market share manufacturers rely on innovation (new formats, packaging) and communication (huge advertising budgets).

List of charts presented in this market study

  • World cheese market value
  • Turnover before tax - cheese production
  • Household consumption of cheese
  • Percentage of the population consuming cheese daily by age
  • Régularité de la consommation de fromage
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Latest news

Suppliers refuse to accept Lactalis' proposed milk price increase - 05/02/2024
  • - The price revised in January by Lactalis is 405 euros per 1000 liters, increased to 420 euros per 1000 liters in 38/32 for February.
  • - Taking all premiums into account, the remuneration paid to producers was 460 euros per 1000 liters for the first two months of the year.
  • - Unell, which represents over 4,000 dairy farms, delivers over 2 billion liters of milk to Lactalis.
Président, the billionaire brand that shaped the destiny of Lactalis - 13/11/2023
  • President brand sales: 3 billion euros
  • Brand age: 55 years
  • Increase in Camembert production in ten years: from 60,000 to 250,000 units
  • Current Camembert production: 500,000 units
  • Main production site: Domfront plant in the Orne region of France
  • Camembert price: less than 2 euros
  • Percentage of brand volume sold under private label: one-third in France and worldwide
  • Number of plants producing Président products outside France: over thirty.
Lactalis: portrait of Emmanuel Besnier, one of France's most secretive bosses - 15/10/2023
  • Sales 2022: 28.3 billion euros, Net income: 384 million euros
  • Number of employees: 85,000 worldwide
  • Number of dairies and cheese factories: 272 in 51 countries, including 66 in France
  • Quantity of milk collected: 22.6 billion liters worldwide
  • Breakdown of sales by product: cheese (40%), milk (19%), ultra-fresh (14%), butter and cream (12%), ingredients and nutrition (9%), other (6%)
  • Major acquisitions
    • Bridel in 1990,
    • nestlé's Roquefort cellars in 1992,
    • Galbani in 2006,
    • Parmalat in 2011,Parmalat acquisition cost: 4.5 billion euros.
    • l'Etoile, Stonyfield and Siggi's cheese factories in 2018,
    • kraft-Heinz cheese business in 2020,
    • Ambrosi in 2023.
Sodiaal launches a campaign to support its Candia, Yoplait and Entremont brands - 09/09/2023

Coopérative Sodiaal brings together three major brands: Candia, Yoplait and Entremont. The cooperative brings together 16,000 farmers in 72 départements. The three brands are present in 9 out of 10 households.

Jay & Joy organic plant-based dairy announces a €2 M fund-raising round - 31/07/2023
  • Jay & Joy is the leader in organic vegetable creamery in specialized distribution.
  • In receivership after a product recall for suspected listeria
  • The brand is present in 8 European countries, including France.
  • Organic dairy products represent a $4 billion market worldwide.
  • The takeover of the company is supported by several investors, including the High Flyers Capital fund and various business angels.
  • 25 employees.
  • The Jay & Joy brand was created in 2014.
  • The brand's growth has been over 60% per year.
Lactalis' Brazilian takeover held up - 27/07/2023
  • Lactalis, the world leader in dairy products, has signed an agreement to acquire DPA, a major player in the Brazilian dairy sector, for 125 million euros
  • With this acquisition, Lactalis would increase its workforce in Brazil to 10,000 employees.
  • DPA was created in 2003 by Nestlé and New Zealand's Fonterra.
  • It currently employs 1,300 people.
  • DPA has two factories in southern Brazil. Lactalis already has a significant presence in Brazil, with 23 industrial sites in eight states.
  • Brazil is Lactalis' fifth largest market.
  • Lactalis already owns thirteen dairy brands in Brazil, including Parmalat, Batavo, Itambe and Pocos de Caldas.
  • DPA brands include Chambinho, Chamyto and Chandelle.
  • The Brazilian Council for Economic Defense (CADE) has issued restrictions on the acquisition of Parmalat

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 Cloche à fromage
Franprix (Groupe Casino)
Sodiaal Groupe (Coopérative)
Bel Groupe
Eurial Coopérative
Lactalis Groupe
Jay & Joy
Fromagerie Beillevaire
Savencia Fromage & Dairy groupe
Entremont (Sodiaal)
Ermitage - Union Laitière Vittelloise

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