As of 2020 and beyond, the European industrial soup market, inclusive of France, has been experiencing a downward trend in production and demand. While the European soup production stood at $2.6 billion with an average negative CAGR of -1.3%, the French market was hit harder, with a CAGR of -7.59%. France represents approximately 15% of the European production, yet its domestic consumption significantly declined to around $385 million in size, with a coverage rate of 85% indicating more imports than exports within recent years.

Major players like Continental Foods and Unilever dominate the market through brands like Liebig and Royco. Demand shifts towards classic, natural, and organic soups have become noticeable, with Knorr leading the organic segment and brands like La Potagère focusing on wellness positioning. 

Declining Appetite for Industrial Soups Amidst Health and Seasonality Factors

The once hearty soup market in France has seen a simmering down, with a noticeable dip in demand for industrial soups marking recent years. In an era where between 15 and 20 million French indulged in the liquid comfort of soups, the spoonfuls have reduced to just over 16 million. This decline corresponds to a negative Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of approximately -5.16%, pointing towards a cooling interest in these convenient, ready-made meals.

A significant contributor to this downtrend is the evolving palate of the newer generations, who are straying away from soups, considering them less of a 'real meal'. Their waning interest aligns with a broader shift in dietary trends, emphasizing the naturalness of foods and raising suspicions over the additives and preservatives in off-the-shelf soup products. This change has led to a noticeable shift from instant and dehydrated soups towards fresher variants, perceived as the closest to homemade goodness, indicating a pivot towards quality over convenience. Interestingly, while the demand for hot, comforting soups wanes with warmer winters, the market finds relief in the rising popularity of cold soups like gazpacho during the summertime.

However, this segment displays a marked seasonality, peaking between spring and summer, offering a short-lived respite to manufacturers. In tandem with these demand dynamics, the industrial soup market also braces itself against regulatory winds, with new laws such as the "food law"  aimed at fairer price constructions based on production costs and a balancing of power within the food sector. Amidst raised eyebrows over glutamate and other flavor enhancers used to amplify taste, and a concerted focus on salt content, the soup industry is stirred to adapt to healthier and more balanced offerings to align with consumer expectations.

The market structure reveals a broth dominated by big-name players like Continental Foods and Unilever, stirring the pot with well-established brands such as Liebig, Royco, Knorr, and Maggi. Yet as the playfield becomes increasingly competitive, with more than 24 new companies emerging, a renewed appetite for "classic" recipes is influencing the market. In light of these shifting tastes and regulations, the French industrial soup market finds itself in a state of flux. The sustenance once provided by these quick fixes in a bowl is slowly giving way to.

Key Players Steering the Dynamics of the French Soup Market Landscape

As we delve into the vibrant landscape of the French soup industry, it is evident that the market is shaped by the presence of major international and specialized domestic players, each leaving its unique mark.

  • Continental Food France takes center stage with its commanding presence, harnessing the strength of its formidable duo, Liebig and Royco. Liebig has captured consumers' attention with its extensive range of canned and packaged soups, leading the market with traditional and premium selections. Meanwhile, Royco continues to reign supreme in the instant soup sector, providing quick, tasty solutions for consumers on the go.

  • Another global titan that has established a robust footing in the realm of soup production is Unilever France SA. With their iconic brand Knorr, they cater to a variety of consumer preferences, including those inclined towards organic and environment-friendly products. Knorr's attentiveness to the evolving trends in environmental consciousness and sustainability has led them to package more of their offerings in recyclable glass bottles.

  • PepsiCo France may be more commonly associated with beverages, but this giant has smoothly transitioned into the world of soup manufacturing, bringing its marketing prowess and extensive distribution network into play to secure a slice of the soup market.

  • Special mention must be made of dedicated soup aficionados like La Potagère, a brand that stands out for its steadfast commitment to naturalness and wellness. By emphasizing the purity and authenticity of their soups, they've garnered a significant share of the market, tapping into the consumer's growing desire for wholesome and nutritious meals.

  • Soup'Idéale represents the niche, craft segment of the market, underscoring the importance of locality and sustainability. Their strategy focuses on minimizing food wastage by collaborating with local producers, and their eco-friendly packaging aligns with the global shift towards sustainable consumption.

  • Lastly, retail heavyweights like Carrefour SA and Picard Surgelés SA cannot be overlooked, as they extend their own private-label products into the fray. With their expansive retail presence and consumer trust, they are well-positioned to cater to the ready-to-eat soup segment, offering convenience and variety to the French table. The synergy between these key players—global brands, dedicated artisans, and retail giants—paints a picture of a market rich in diversity, customer orientation, and innovation, all united by the love of a hearty, comforting bowl of soup.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Presentation and definition of the market

Soup is a  liquid dish, usually based on cooked vegetables and can be served cold or hot.

Generally, a soup is made up of cooked vegetables and legumes such as beans or lentils, but these ingredients are sometimes combined with animal proteins (meat, fish, milk, eggs, cheese), fats (bacon, butter, oils, cream) and, more rarely, fruits.

Different types of soup can be distinguished (non-exhaustive list):

  • Vegetable soups (fresh, brick, instant, dehydrated) ;
  • Cold soups (gazpacho) ;
  • Fish soups (bisque).

A standard of practice exists for vegetable soups in order to provide consumers with a guarantee of quality: in order to benefit from the name "soup", a product must contain at least 40% vegetables. In the opposite case, the product will be considered as a vegetable juice.

This study will focus on vegetable soups, the most important market segment in France and Europe.

List of charts

  • Ventes des soupes par types
  • Evolution de l'indice de prix des soupes
  • [Copy] Value of soup production
  • [Copy] Breakdown of sales by country
  • [Copy] [Copy] Breakdown of sales by country
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Latest news

Breton company Sill ready to take over Knorr liquid soups - 01/03/2024
  • Sill Entreprises generates sales of 640 million euros.
  • Its dairy business accounts for 400 million euros in sales.
  • The rest of its activities, including soups, account for 240 million euros, divided equally between frozen products and the vegetable business.
  • Sill's liquid soup brand, La Potagère, generates sales of 15 million euros.
  • Sill will hold second place in the French industrial soups market, with sales of over 65 million euros, while market leader Liebig has sales of 150 million euros.
  • The market for liquid soups fell by 7% in volume in 2023.
  • Sill employs 1,700 people at 9 sites, mainly in Brittany.
Picard has reinvented itself in three strategic moves - 23/09/2023
  • Picard currently has over 1,050 stores.
  • Forty store openings are expected by 2026, including 25 franchises in towns of 10,000 inhabitants.
  • Internationally, Picard has set up a dozen corners in Marks & Spencer stores in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Hong Kong.
  • The company has partnered with Chronofresh for home delivery throughout France, and has set up a home delivery service in under 15 minutes with Deliveroo.
  • The click & collect service has been extended to all stores since November 2021.
  • The company has begun distributing non-frozen products, including savory and sweet groceries and wine.
Picard takes a new path - 20/08/2023
  • The Picard chain is 49% owned by Moez-Alexandre Zouari
  • Sales of 1.7 billion euros by 2022
  • In 2024, Moez-Alexandre Zouari may exercise an option to take full control of Picard, currently 51% owned by Lion Capital.
Dairy group Sill acquires cookie maker Terre d'Embruns - 26/04/2023
  • Terre d'Embruns annual sales: 6 million euros.
  • Terre d'Embruns workforce: 80 employees
  • Terre d'Embruns has 3 stores in Brest.
  • 80% of Terre d'Embruns sales are to professionals.
  • Sales of Primel Gastronomie: 120 million euros, subsidiary of the group joined by Terre d'Embruns
  • Total Sill Group sales: 670 million euros.
  • Total Sill group workforce: 1,600 employees.
  • Sill is France's third-largest soup-brick manufacturer.
Unilever steps up its ice cream ambitions - 21/11/2022
  • with sales of over 1 billion euros, Magnum is one of the world's leading ice cream companies
  • World leader in ice cream almost everywhere in the world
  • Ice cream is one of Unilever's five strategic categories, along with beauty (Dove, Sunsilk...), hygiene (Rexona, Signal...), home care (Omo, Cif...) and food (Knorr, Maille, Amora...).
  • Ice cream division 6.9 billion euros in sales by 2021
  • 35 brands, including Magnum, Ben & Jerry's, and Wall's, each with over €1 billion in sales, and smaller brands (Cornetto and Viennetta, the American Talenti)
  • Viennetta launched in China
  • ice cream accounts for 15% of the global snacking market.
Picard: prepaid payment card for young people - 14/09/2022
  • Launch of a prepaid payment card to spend on frozen foods
  • 5% of Picard sales now generated online
  • at 5.5 euros a dish with dessert and drink, Picard rivals McDonald's
  • Picard had already set up frozen-food vending machines in universities
  • Development of click and collect and home delivery
  • Partnership with Deliveroo to deliver to consumers in 10 minutes
  • Sales: 1.7 billion euros in sales

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. :

GB Food
Picard Surgelés
Sill Entreprises
Sauces & Créations

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