Multiples set to storm French sandwich market

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bread

The streets of any French town are lined with stores selling
sandwiches, from chains such as La Brioche Dorée and Paul to
individual kiosks, but all of them have something to fear - the
growing importance of multiple grocers.

At present, hypermarket and supermarket chains such as Carrefour and Casino account for just 9 per cent of the French sandwich market - estimated by market analysts Xerfi​ at around 1.1 billion sandwiches a year in 2003 - in no small part because many of them are on industrial estates or in out-of-town locations, far away from the working population, the biggest buyers of sandwiches.

But the arrival of many of these chains in city and town centre locations in recent years has already seen them post the fastest growth of any sandwich-selling outlet - 25 per cent in value terms last year, after a 40 per cent gain in 2002 - and multiples are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they sell pre-packaged sandwiches, in particular giving them stand-alone shelf space near the doors to facilitate rapid sales.

The arrival in force of the multiple retailers in the sandwich sector is a reflection of just how successful this sector has been in recent years. Indeed, Xerfi calls it "an island of growth in an otherwise stagnant food market"​ and attributes the success to the versatility of the product and the readiness of producers to adapt their offering to changing consumer tastes.

Varieties such as vegetarian, exotic and low-fat sandwiches, unheard of just a few years ago, now regularly rub shoulders with perennial favourites such as ham, cheese and tuna, and while nothing is ever likely to overtake the baguette as the most popular sandwich type, a number of different bread variants, such as the slightly sweet brioché and UK-style sliced bread, are appearing on shelves.

All of which is expected to help lift French sandwich consumption by 18 per cent by 2006, an average annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent, according to Xerfi. Specialist sandwich chains are likely to remain the most dynamic, accounting for over 50 per cent of sales, but the threat posed by the major multiples should not be underestimated.

Related topics: Ingredients

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