Organic consumption in France has shown robust growth over the last decade with sales by specialist bio stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets, and the food service showing exceptional double-digit growth since 2014. The French market is outperforming Europe's number one organic market, Germany.

In 2016, the value of purchases of foodstuffs from organic agriculture was estimated at EUR7.147 billion, with EUR 6.736 billion spent for home consumption (+ 21.7 percent compared to 2015). AgenceBio figures reveal that the food service reported EUR411 million of purchases of organic products excluding VAT, and including EUR229 million in HT catering (+ 5% vs 2015), and 182 million excluding VAT in commercial catering (+ 10% vs 2015).

In 2016 France was the second largest organic market in Europe in value for consumption of certified organic food products, with one billion euro of sales growth since 2015 and had a higher, 21.8 percent growth in organics from 2014 to 2016, compared to Germany's 14.2 percent growth, Natexbio says.

Additionally, imports of organic products sold in France accounted for 24 percent. Investments registered by organic food companies had grown by 50 percent since 2015, 90 percent of organic cosmetic companies introduced new products in 2015; while there was an 11 percent increase in organic industry recruitment since 2013, according to Natexbio.

Analyzing data for imports and exports of organic products for 2016, 71 percent of the products consumed in the country were locally sourced.

Among the imports of organics, half come from other countries of the European Union. And 43 percent of the remaining imports consist of exotic products (bananas, cocoa, coffee) or purely Mediterranean foods (olives, citrus), as France produces very few such products.

Exports of organic products from France in 2016 recorded a 14 percent growth to US$629 million, despite stronger domestic demand. Wine represented two-thirds of French organic product exports in value; other sectors such as groceries posted export growth.

Organics/Bio are popular with French consumers

According to the latest 2016 figures from the Barometer BIO/CSA agency, nearly 9 out of 10 French (89 percent) people consumed organic products in 2016, almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) say they regularly consume organics at least once a month; and 15 percent every day. In 2003, 46 percent of French consumers never ate organic products.

"This development takes place in a context where the French are emphasizing the preservation of the environment in their acts of purchase (92 percent vs. 89 percent in 2015 vs. 67% in 2007)," the Barometer says.

"Bio answers their expectations with an agricultural future, based on the respect of environmental, animal welfare, promoting employment and regional development."

Looking at organic consumption by product for 2016, more than half of the sales value of organic products was fresh produce, with an increase of 33 percent vs. 2015. Grocery stores continued to record the highest growth of the organic sector with 24 percent growth, as in 2015; organic meat had strong 10 percent growth, while seafood showed 7 percent growth and dairy 17 percent.

"The radius of the dry food is particularly dynamic including the success of the bulk of breakfast cereals, puffed pancakes and accompanying cereals," AgenceBio says. Figures for organics in 2016 show that sector growth continued in the provision of employment, the number of organic operators, and in certified organic acreage.

The biological activity (production, processing, and distribution) concerned in 2016 about 118 000 direct jobs, with an average annual growth of 8.4 percent per year for four years.

The number of operators continues to increase. At the end of 2016, 47,104 operators (producers, processors, distributors, and importers) were engaged in organic production, an increase of nearly 10 percent compared to 2015.

And Bio crossed the symbolic threshold of 5 percent of the Utilized Agricultural Area of France, while 1,538,047 hectares were engaged by organic methods in 2016, an increase of 17 percent compared to 2015.