Summary of our market study

The global market for frozen French fries is growing significantly, with an estimated $39.96 billion in 2022 and a CAGR of 4.7% to 2030. Market trends point to strong demand for frozen French fries, particularly as a convenient and cost-effective food option in urban areas and thanks to the proliferation of fast-food chains.

Europe boasts some of the highest consumption rates, with France a key player due to its high-quality potato production and consumption of 24 kg per capita per year. French exports of frozen French fries have risen sharply, with Belgium the main buyer.

On the distribution front, sales of baked French fries grew by a substantial 33%, and the overall frozen potato products segment captured a 7% market share by value in 2020 in France.

Despite being a major potato exporter, France imports most of its frozen French fries, but recently, increased investments have been made by foreign players such as Agristo and significant ongoing investments by McCain, signalling a potential shift in market structure.

In the frozen savoury segment, specialist retailers continue to see sales growth following the Covid-19 crisis, and hold a significant share of the market.

Analysis of the frozen French fries market in France: Trends and key figures

In recent years, the French market has seen a notable increase in demand for frozen French fries, riding the global wave that sees this market steadily prosper. With growing urbanization and the proliferation of fast-food chains, frozen French fries, once relegated to the status of a simple side dish, have become an integral part of meals throughout France.

This growing appetite for frozen French fries is reflected in the French market which, while having a strong tradition of potato consumption, is paradoxically significantly dependent on imports, particularly from neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands. This is due to more favorable production costs and more flexible regulations in these countries.

Despite this apparent quirk, demand in France is robust, with the French fast-food market posting significant growth of over 25% on the previous year, with sales reaching more than 20 billion euros. The frozen fries segment in France has diversified, offering consumers a plethora of choices, from standard fries to crispy fries and novel flavors, encouraging consumption.

Although we don't have precise data on the size of the French market, the potato processing and preservation sector, which has generated sales of around 900 million to 1 billion euros in 2022, gives us an indication of its upward trajectory.

As far as international trade is concerned, France is more active in importing than exporting, with a coverage rate of just under 10% in 2022. Belgium stands out as the leading exporter to France, underlining the trans-European dynamics of this market.

However, the sector is not without its challenges. Factors such as the energy crisis and geopolitical tensions, like the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, have driven up the cost of essential ingredients like sunflower oil, forcing restaurants to rethink their pricing strategies to maintain profit margins. Despite these challenges, the sector's promising growth has attracted significant investment.

International players, especially leaders such as Canada's McCain, which accounts for a third of sales in France, are capitalizing on France's favorable agricultural conditions and expanding their operations.

Main competitors in the dynamic frozen French fries market

The frozen French fries market is in full swing, with players ranging from retail giants to specialist manufacturers, each shaping the industry through innovation, strategic positioning and market penetration. Let's take a look at some of the leading companies in this competitive field.

  • McCain Foods is more than just a mainstay of the frozen French fries market; it's a household name with deep roots in global soil. As the undisputed market leader, McCain maintains its dominant position thanks to a strong product portfolio that includes a range of cuts and flavors designed to meet diverse consumer preferences. Its strategic investments in plant modernization and capacity expansion in France underline its commitment to maintaining its dominant market position.

  • Agristo NV, on the other hand, is a relatively new entity, but has established itself as a formidable player. This Belgian family business has expanded its geographical presence by investing heavily in a new production plant in France, demonstrating both its growth ambitions and its confidence in the potential of the French market.

  • Aviko B.V. hails from the Netherlands, another key competitor which also has a significant share of the pie in the European frozen French fries market. Although their exact financial figures are not listed, their presence is undeniably felt across the continent, illustrating the strength of Dutch companies in this sector.

  • Lamb Weston, from the USA, is another giant whose offerings in the frozen potato segment have found a favorable echo in many markets. Its operational scale and innovative product development make it an important global competitor, as evidenced by its financial success and extensive presence.

  • The Carrefour Group, although primarily a retailer, plays a key role in providing a platform for the various brands of frozen French fries to reach consumers. Its private label products are also present in this segment, offering consumers a quality yet reasonably priced alternative to the big brands.

  • Picard Surgelés specializes in frozen food retailing in France, and has been instrumental in the growth of the country's frozen food segment, including French fries. Its emphasis on quality and variety has earned it a solid reputation among French consumers.

  • Lidl and Bonduelle also deserve a mention. Lidl, primarily a supermarket chain, has expanded and diversified its product range to include frozen French fries, further intensifying the competition. Bonduelle, a generalist in the processed vegetable market, also remains an important player in this field.

  • Finally, there are smaller entities such as Frite qui plé.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

The frozen French fries market encompasses all frozen French fries producers in France, as well as distributors, whether supermarkets or specialist stores. In addition, a large proportion of frozen French fries are produced for the catering trade. Frozen French fries are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their convenient storage and preparation, and their low cost. Producers are capitalizing on this craze by expanding their range, offering a plethora of different cuts and elaborate flavors.

The global market, estimated at $39.96 billion in 2022, is booming and set to grow at a CAGR of 4.7% to 2030. Frozen French fries, usually seen as a side dish, but increasingly becoming a meal in their own right with the popularization of poutine and the variations offered by McCain, have taken advantage of urbanization and the development of fast-food restaurants to establish themselves as a must-have product of our time. Many international companies compete fiercely in this segment, but Canada's McCain stands out as the undisputed market leader.

The French market is also booming, but is highly dependent on imports. This has given rise to the "French fries" paradox: while French fries are traditionally very popular in France, and France is one of the world's leading potato exporters, it is heavily dependent on its Belgian and Dutch neighbors in the frozen fries segment. This is mainly due to the lower costs and more flexible regulations of our European neighbors. However, a desire on the part of the French to consume more locally is encouraging foreign players to set up in France, favoring northern regions such as the Hauts de France.

However, the sector has been disrupted by the global context, suffering in turn from the 2021 energy crisis and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, heavily impacting the price of energy and sunflower oil, a major ingredient in French fries. As a result, restaurateurs are having to cut their margins or raise their prices to adapt to these new obstacles.

1.2 A growing global market

Frozen French fries are one of the world's most popular snacks, widely used in households and restaurants. The product's advantages include speed of use, storability and portion control, all of which contribute to the growing number of consumers worldwide. The size of the global frozen French fries market was estimated at ...

1.3 A growing market and a leading player

Unfortunately, no data is available on the size of the French market for frozen French fries. However, we can estimate its size and identify trends by looking at a larger market: the potato processing and preservation market, identified by NAF code **.**Z. This sector comprises :

potato processing and preservation, preparation of ...

1.4 International trade

International trade figures for frozen French fries are grouped under CN* code ********: potatoes, uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water, frozen. We can therefore use this code to identify import and export trends, as well as France's main trading partners.

Exports:

French exports of products under code ***** France, **** - ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The French and French fries

Consumption of French fries in Europe is among the highest in the world, with an average of ** kg per person per year, equivalent to ** million tonnes. Belgium leads the way, with ** kg per capita per year, followed by the Netherlands (***).

Average annual individual consumption of Europe's biggest consumers of French fries Europe, ...

2.2 Frozen French fries: the star of frozen potato products

Purchases of frozen French fries are divided between two types of player: restaurateurs and distributors. We'll start by looking at distributors.

Since ****, sales of oven-baked French fries have grown by a significant **%. This product category has made a major contribution to the expansion of the frozen potato sector, accounting for almost ...

2.3 Good figures from the foodservice sector support demand for frozen French fries

According to the Groupement Interprofessionnel pour la Valorisation de la Pomme de Terre (***), the French currently consume ** kilos of potatoes in the form of French fries, mashed potatoes, frozen fried potatoes and potato chips, compared with ** kilos fresh. This trend explains the strong interest shown by major international frozen-fry groups in ...

2.4 Increasingly local and organic demand

There is a strong demand for local frozen French fries, made from local produce and produced in the same region. According to Insee, three out of four French people say they are prepared to pay more for a product made in France[***].

Demand is also shifting more and more towards organic ...

2.5 France's favourite frozen food brands

A number of major frozen food brands dominate the French market: Findus, Picard and McCain. In this section, we look at how the French rate these brands.

Appreciation of different frozen food brands France, ****, in Source: ****

The French don't have any clear-cut preferences when it comes to the various frozen food ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Market organization and dynamics

The potato processing industry involves a wide range of players, from companies specializing in the production and selection of seed potatoes (***) to distributors and restaurateurs. [***]

Source: ****

3.2 Characteristics of companies in the sector

Unfortunately, it is not possible to access figures for the frozen French fries sector, so we'll be looking at the potato processing and preservation sector, identified under NAF code **.**Z, as in *.*.

Number of companies operating in potato preservation and processing France, ****-**** Source: ****

The number of establishments operating in potato ...

3.3 Distribution largely concentrated in the north

The distribution of potato processing and preservation plants is extremely heterogeneous.

Source: ****

There is a high concentration in the north of France, with ** establishments in the Hauts-de-France region. This is due to the region's proximity to the Netherlands and Belgium, our two main buyers of prepared potatoes (***). There are also a ...

3.4 France increasingly attracts foreign players

Although France is the world's leading potato exporter, it imports most of its French fries from Belgium and the Netherlands (***). However, this situation is changing. French fry manufacturers, including Belgian companies and Canadian giant McCain, are increasingly investing in French fry production in France, anticipating growth potential in the French ...

3.5 The savoury frozen food segment, driven by specialist stores

As in other sectors of the food industry,the Covid-** crisis and successive confinements have boosted sales of salted frozen foods. This trend was also observed among specialist retailers. After an exceptionally strong year in ****, sales momentum remained high in ****.

Although supermarkets (***), specialist chains are up *.*% on ****, with sales of ***.* million ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 A vast range of products and the growth of organic produce

A varied offer:

The biggest players in the frozen French fries sector diversify their offer by proposing different flavors, different cuts, different cooking methods and different ranges. McCain 's website, for example, offers ** different references for frozen French fries. To this we can add the five potato references offered by the ...

4.2 Varied price ranges

The table below lists the prices of the main references in the frozen French fries segment on Carrefour's e-commerce site.

4.3 Highly variable raw material prices

Overall, prices have risen for ware potatoes, from €*.**/kg in **** to €*.**/kg in **** (***).

change in average price per kg of potatoes France, **** - ****, in € Source: ****

Although players in the frozen French fries sector have access to lower prices, since they buy directly from producers with whom they negotiate prices, the graph ...

4.4 Snacking, the new trend that's seducing people

The small frozen meals segment enjoyed dynamic growth, illustrating consumers' preference for quick meals, even in times of confinement. According to IRI's cumulative annual data for ****, this segment saw its volumes increase by *%, fuelled mainly by snacking, which grew by **%. At the same time, growth in aperitif products was more moderate, ...

4.5 An ever-growing list of ingredients

Traditional French fries are made from just two different ingredients: potatoes and oil. However, producers of frozen French fries tend to add ingredients to their recipes, which worries consumers and the associations that represent them. As a result, potato content varies between brands of fries.

Potato content in frozen French fries ...

5 Regulations

5. Regulations governing frozen French fries

The decree of September **, **** on specifications applicable to various frozen fruits and vegetables sets out the rules governing frozen pre-fried potatoes. Updated in September ****, this text issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Crafts and the State Secretariat for Consumer Affairs, stipulates that :

deep-frozen pre-fried potatoes may only be prepared ...

6 Positioning the players

6. Player segmentation

  • Bonduelle Groupe
  • Intersnack (Knabber Geback Group)
  • Fruits de la terre
  • McCain Food
  • Dr Oetker
  • Lamb Weston
  • Aviko
  • Agristo
  • Carrefour Groupe
  • E.Leclerc
  • Casino Groupe
  • Auchan groupe
  • Picard Surgelés
  • Lidl
  • Cité Gourmande

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Forecast for the global frozen French fries market
  • Trends in the size of the French potato processing and preservation market
  • French exports of products falling under CN code 8 07101000
  • Main buyers of French NC8 code items 07101000
  • French imports of products falling under CN code 8 07101000
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Latest news

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.
Carrefour to lease out 37 stores - 21/10/2023
  • Carrefour plans to lease out 37 new stores in 2022, 16 hypermarkets and 21 supermarkets.
  • Around 4,000 employees affected
  • The company launched an outsourcing program in 2018.
  • The number announced is in line with previous years: 41 stores (including 16 hyper) in 2023, 43 stores (including 16 hyper) in 2022, and 47 stores (including 10 hyper) in 2021.
  • Since Alexandre Bompard took over as CEO, 305 stores, including 80 hypermarkets, have been outsourced, affecting more than 23,000 employees.
Bonduelle: the road to recovery will be "long" - 03/10/2023
  • Bonduelle sales rose by 9.2% (5% on a comparable basis) to 2.4 billion euros.
  • Net profit fell by 59.1% to 14.5 million euros
  • Sales of products such as lunch bowls account for almost 20% of Bonduelle's sales.
  • Bonduelle forecasts 40% growth in these products by 2024.
  • In the United States, which used to account for 34% of Bonduelle's total sales, the share fell to a quarter of sales after a poor performance and the disposal of activities.
  • In Russia, Bonduelle has forecast sales of 200 million euros for fiscal 2022-2023.

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. :

Bonduelle Groupe
Intersnack (Knabber Geback Group)
Fruits de la terre
McCain Food
Dr Oetker
Lamb Weston
Aviko
Agristo
Carrefour Groupe
E.Leclerc
Casino Groupe
Auchan groupe

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