Summary of our market study

The sunflower oil market has been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, which has led to supply chain disruptions and a labor crisis in the oil processing sector. These difficulties have been exacerbated by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which began in February 2022 and has had a significant impact on the market due to the major role played by Ukraine and Russia in sunflower oil exports, leading to worldwide shortages and soaring prices. As a result of the conflict, traditional markets turned to alternative sources of supply, leading to the diversification of supply chains. Despite these difficulties, global demand for sunflower oil remained buoyant, stimulated by growing consumer interest in healthy diets.

France, a major player and Europe's leading sunflower oil producer, felt the effects of changes in international trade flows and fluctuations in domestic prices. The French market has seen variations in sunflower oil consumption, with a stable trend leading to consumption of 425,000 tonnes in 2021. Prices for sunflower oil in France ranged from €2.5 to €12 per liter, depending on quality and brand. The market has also adapted to new trends such as the rise of organic farming, with a notable increase in organic oilseed acreage, and the inclusion of sunflower oil in cosmetics due to its nourishing properties.

Demand for sunflower oil in France: consumer trends and preferences.

The sunflower oil market in France has been shaped by a variety of factors, including health concerns, national production capacities and global trade disruptions. The French sunflower oil market is characterized in particular by the country's status as Europe's leading producer.

In terms of national production, France devotes a significant surface area, between 650,000 and 750,000 hectares, to the cultivation of sunflower oil, demonstrating the importance of this sector in the agricultural landscape. Nevertheless, regulatory challenges such as the Nitrates Directive and various environmental regulations are increasing the cost of production and may have an impact on the competitiveness of French oilseed producers.

Consumption patterns in France reflect sustained stability in demand for sunflower oil, with consumption fluctuating between 420,000 and 430,000 tonnes on an annual basis over a period of almost two decades. This indicates that the market is well established and that consumer preference for this oilseed is constant. Rapeseed oil, on the other hand, has seen a more dynamic evolution, with significant growth followed by a slight reduction to reach a consumption figure of around 1,500,000 to 1,600,000 tonnes.

In terms of market segmentation, the organic sector is gaining momentum, driven by a national trend towards healthier, more environmentally-friendly consumption choices. This trend is illustrated by the growth of the organic market in France, which has practically doubled in the space of five years and represents around 6% of household food expenditure. Strikingly, the area planted with organic sunflowers has increased by almost 50%, demonstrating the growing appeal of organic farming.

The cosmetics industry also plays a role in the demand for sunflower oil. Thanks to its high linoleic acid and vitamin E content, sunflower oil is a sought-after ingredient in a wide range of products, including skin care oils and therapeutic preparations. This use in cosmetics is diversifying demand for sunflower oil beyond the food industry. In response to the recent challenges posed by the conflict in Ukraine, which has disrupted the region's important sunflower oil export business, France has seen an increase in prices and a push towards alternative oils.

French consumers and companies are considering other vegetable oils as potential substitutes, leading to changes in purchasing behavior and product offerings within the food industry

The French sunflower oil market is defined by a tapestry of influential players, each contributing to the sector's strong production, distribution and export chain.

By contributing their unique brands and operational strengths, these entities are essential to maintaining the dynamic balance of the French oilseed arena.

  • The Avril Group's Lesieur: a Goliath in the sunflower oil sector On the domestic market, the Avril Group, with its Lesieur brand, is a leader. Synonymous with quality, Lesieur has conquered the hearts and kitchens of France, accounting for 25% of sunflower oil sales in supermarkets. Lesieur's offer is not limited to the kitchen. The Lesieur brand extends its reach by influencing the composition and cooking methods of a variety of foods, from crunchy French fries to tins of sardines in oil with a marine flavor.
  • Carrefour: The supermarket sensation Meanwhile, retail giant Carrefour is making its mark with an eponymous brand offering affordable, accessible products. As a supermarket chain present throughout France, Carrefour bridges the gap between high-quality sunflower oil and the everyday consumer, offering a range of choices that meet both utilitarian and gastronomic needs.
  • Leclerc: the accessible, affordable supplier E.Leclerc is another major supermarket chain offering private-label sunflower oil, which has infiltrated the fabric of French culinary practices. Its competitive prices and customer-focused approach have earned it a place of choice in many French households, boosting private label's share of sunflower oil sales.
  • Puget and Cauvin: pillars of purity and quality Puget, a brand renowned for the diversity of its range of oils, and Cauvin, known for its commitment to organic farming, enrich the market landscape. Admired for their authenticity and quality, these brands appeal to a niche clientele who appreciate the nutritional charge and pure essence of sunflower oil, including those who favor organic and sustainable sourcing.
  • Tramier: the choice of culinary connoisseurs The Tramier brand is also making its mark on the French sunflower oil market, with products that grace many a kitchen. Appreciated for its oil blends that combine the wholesomeness of sunflower with the richness of olive oil, the Tramier brand meets the diverse culinary preferences and needs of consumers
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

The sunflower oil market in France refers to the economic activity related to the production and sale of sunflower oil, an agri-food product. It is a vegetable oil made from sunflower seeds. It is used for several purposes

  • It is mainly used in the agri-food sector as a raw material for a wide range of mass-market products, both in product composition and for cooking: French fries, potato chips, sardines in oil and certain grocery products.
  • The organic version is also in demand in the cosmetics sector : rich in Omega 6 and vitamin E, it is used to nourish dry skin and hair.

France is a major player on the world market. In 2021, it is Europe's leading producer of sunflower oil , accounting for 20% of total EU production, just ahead of Hungary(18%), Spain(16%), Romania(14%) and Bulgaria(10%). The following year, in 2022, France exported over 313 million euros worth of sunflower oil, while importing over 318 million euros . That same year, France was the world's 5th largest producer of sunflower oil, behind Turkey and ahead of Hungary and Spain. France has around 700,000 hectares dedicated to sunflower oil cultivation [Atlas Big].

In France, the Avril Group's Lesieur brand accounts for a quarter of sunflower oil sales in supermarkets, while private labels account for half.

On a global scale, Ukraine accounts for 50% of sunflower oil exports, a product that accounts for half of Ukrainian exports to France. Since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, the supply chain has been particularly disrupted. Recent events have led to a shortage of sunflower oil in Europe, and soaring market prices. To alleviate these problems, food manufacturers are substituting the product, notably with rapeseed oil. The French government has authorized companies to change their recipes without modifying their labels, making their task easier, and the same request has been accepted by the cosmetics industry.

1.2 Global market size

The sunflower market was impacted by the COVID-** pandemic, leading on the one hand to a labor crisis in oil-processing plants due to repeated closures, and on the other to a disruption of the supply chain due to transport and communication restrictions.the sunflower market has been impacted by the COVID-** ...

1.3 The French market

Every year, the European Union produces around ** million tonnes of oilseeds (***) on a surface area of * million hectares. A further * million hectares are devoted to olive growing. Altogether, this translates into a production of * million tonnes of oils in Europe, including *.* million tonnes of olive oil.

However, European consumption of vegetable ...

1.4 French foreign trade

In ****, France's sunflower oil trade balance was virtually balanced. In fact, France exported *** million euros worth of oil, representing a total of ***,*** tonnes, against imports of ***,*** tonnes worth *** million euros.

French trade balance in value and volume on the sunflower oil market France, ****, in millions of euros and thousands of tons Source: ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 French oilseed consumption

France is not only a producer of oilseeds, but also a consumer. The following graph shows total oilseed consumption in France, broken down by type. We can see that rapeseed oil consumption exploded in the ****s, rising from *** thousand tonnes consumed annually in **** to *,*** thousand tonnes in ****, a significant variation of ...

2.2 The use of oil in cosmetics

Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds by pressing immediately after harvesting. Sunflower oil is widely used in skin care and beauty products, and makes an excellent base oil for massages.

Its composition, rich in linoleic acid (***) [***].

Indeed, sunflower oil has many benefits, not least as a vegetable oil with natural ...

2.3 A minority use of sunflower in biodiesels

In France, most diesel vehicles use a fuel containing a percentage of biodiesel. The two most common blends are B* and B**, which are diesel fuels containing *% and **% biodiesel respectively. In addition, some fleets in France use a biofuel based on pure vegetable oil, sold under the brand name Oleo***. This ...

2.4 Demand driven by organic farming

With the Covid-** crisis, the health concerns of French consumers have come to the forefront of their food expectations.

As a result,the trend towards healthy, sustainable, local and seasonal consumption is gaining ground, with a particular craze for "home-made" products. In ****, more than half of French people say they will ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Sunflower oil market value chain

A possible value chain for the sunflower oil market is as follows:

Sunflower production: The value chain begins with the production of sunflowers by farmers. Farmers grow sunflowers on their farms following appropriate agricultural practices, such as quality seed selection, crop management, fertilizer and pesticide use, and harvesting sunflowers at maturity. Sunflower ...

3.2 Regional production

Sunflower seed production is highly regional in France. Production is virtually non-existent in the north-western quarter of the country and in the south-east. In contrast, production is high in the south-west and east. Indeed, the most productive regions are: Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Centre Val-de-Loire, Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

The process of obtaining ...

3.3 Summary of seed use

Sunflower seed balance sheet:

Over the last * harvest years (***)*, production has increased from year to year, although the area under cultivation has not necessarily followed the same trends. On the other hand, yields per hectare have improved by almost **% between the last two campaigns, due in particular to the greater hazards ...

3.4 A sector dominated by private labels

Sunflower oil brands:

Puget: Puget is a well-known brand offering a variety of oils, including sunflower oil. Their products are renowned for their quality and are widely available in French supermarkets.

Lesieur: Lesieur is a well-known French brand of edible oils. They also offer sunflower oil, which is often used for ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Types of sunflower oil

There are different types of sunflower oil, depending on their production method, composition and characteristics.

Refined sunflower oil:

This is the sunflower oil most commonly available on the market. It is obtained from sunflower seeds through a refining process that eliminates impurities and undesirable components. Refined sunflower oil has a light ...

4.2 Products made from sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a versatile ingredient used in many food and non-food products.

Cooking oil:

Sunflower oil is widely used as a cooking oil for frying, baking, sautéing and general culinary preparations. It offers a neutral flavor and excellent stability at high temperatures.

Mayonnaise and sauces:

Sunflower oil is a ...

4.3 Soaring prices linked to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Sunflower oil prices depend on brand, quality and specificity. A Lesieur organic oil will cost more than a conventional private-label oil. Prices for a liter of sunflower oil in supermarkets can fluctuate between €*.*/L and €**/L.

As a result of the war, Ukraine, which used to account for **% of the world's ...

4.4 New market trends

Looking for substitutes and alternatives:

Due to the high price of sunflower oil, some consumers and companies are looking for substitutes or alternatives. Vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil, soybean oil and palm oil can be used as alternatives, although some of these are also experiencing price rises.

Growing interest in ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Regulations

French regulations on the sunflower oil market are based on European Union directives, which establish standards and requirements to guarantee the quality and safety of foodstuffs, including sunflower oil.

Quality standards :

Sunflower oil must comply with the quality standards defined by European regulations, in particular Regulation (***) No. ****/****. This includes criteria such ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Player segmentation

  • Lesieur (Avril Groupe)
  • Amora Maille
  • Carrefour Groupe
  • Auchan Hypermarches
  • Avril Groupe
  • La Tourangelle
  • Bioplanete Huilerie Moog
  • Rothschild Martin Maurel
  • Rustica (Media Participations)
  • Aveno NV Delizio
  • Cauvin
  • Paysans d'ici
  • Fruit d’Or - Upfield
  • Lognib Food - Bingoil
  • Koipe
  • Vandemoortele
  • Celnat
  • Branded Group Rossina Huile
  • Borges
  • Coop
  • Bouton d'Or (Intermarché)

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of the global sunflower oil market
  • Main sunflower oil producing countries
  • Size of the sunflower oil market in France
  • French trade balance in value and volume on the sunflower oil market
  • France's main customer countries
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Latest news

Cheapflation: the answer from Maille (Unilever)n - 08/02/2024
  • The phenomenon of Cheapflation, i.e. the replacement of certain products or foods by cheaper substitutes, in order to maintain margins or a consumer selling price.
  • One example is ice cream, which is no longer called "ice cream" but "frozen dessert", due to the replacement of dairy products with fillers.
  • Six brands accused of abusing the Cheapflation phenomenon by Foodwatch: After Eight, Milka, Fleury Michon, Maille, Bordeau Chesnel and Findus (out of more than 20,000 references in hypermarkets).
  • Maille's "fins gourmets" mayonnaise is specifically implicated, having seen the proportion of egg yolk present in the sauce reduced by 24.7% between November 2023 and January 2024.
  • Unilever has had to adjust the composition of its products in order to continue producing certain recipes that consumers love, at their factory near Dijon.
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.
Meatless meals: Lesieur puts its plant-based cooking at the heart of meals - 08/10/2023
  • Lesieur was created in 1908. Lesieur was acquired by the Avril Group in 2022.
  • Lesieur aims to capture 5% of the vegetable market within two years.
  • Growth in the vegetal market is 5%.
  • The plant-based market represents some 430 million euros, and includes sales of plant-based beverages, ultra-fresh products and fresh delicatessen products.
  • Lesieur plans to launch new recipes in 2024 and 2025.
Hari&Co joins the Avril Group - 08/10/2023
  • Hari&Co was founded in 2014.
  • Hari&Co is one of the market leaders in plant proteins.
  • Hari&Co generates sales of 10 million euros with 35 employees.
  • Hari&Co products are available in over 5,000 points of sale.
  • The Avril Group has acquired a majority stake in Hari&Co.
  • The Avril Group has sales of 9 billion euros in 2022.
  • The Avril Group operates in 19 countries and employs nearly 7,400 people at 73 industrial sites and sales offices.
  • Avril also owns other brands such as Vivien Paille, Lesieur and, since 2022, the Italian grocery brand Italians do it better.
  • Hari&Co's previous shareholders were the investment funds Eutopia and Triodos Investment Management.
Food: Carrefour joins forces with seven manufacturers to promote plant-based products - 07/09/2023
  • The aim of the international coalition to accelerate sales of plant-based alternatives is to achieve joint sales of 3 billion euros in this niche by 2026.
  • Carrefour's share will be 500 million euros, a 60% increase on today's figure.
  • Plant-based alternatives represented a market worth 553 million euros in 2022
  • Sales of plant-based products are enjoying double-digit growth.

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. :

Lesieur (Avril Groupe)
Amora Maille
Carrefour Groupe
Auchan Hypermarches
Avril Groupe
La Tourangelle
Bioplanete Huilerie Moog
Rothschild Martin Maurel
Rustica (Media Participations)
Aveno NV Delizio
Paysans d'ici

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