The USDA research shows imports of sweet and savoury snacks have risen 14 per cent in the last three years but the market could be exploited further in terms of breakfast bars, nuts, crisps and extruded snacks.
The overall snacking sector in France - comprising of sweet and savoury snacks and snack bars - is estimated at $1.3bn (€1bn) and growing at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent. Most imports currently come from Germany, Belgium and Italy with manufacturers from those countries proving successful at targeting the industry trend for convenient packaging and healthy, innovative products.
According to the report: "French consumers demand sophisticated (ethnic), low-fat and quality products sold in attractive and practical packaging.
"Therefore, innovation, communication, promotion and merchandising stand as the keystones to successful competition in the French market."
In 2005, French sales of sweet and savoury snacks amounted to $1.14bn (€0.88bn) while sales of snack bars reached $133m (€103m). Breakfast bars scooped 38 per cent of the total sales value but the underperformers of the market were muesli and energy bars with stagnant sales and a pessimistic outlook for the sector in the future.
The current market leader in sweet and savoury snacks is Lorenz Bahlsen snacks which owns a 17.63 share of the sector and produce the Bahlsen, Curly, Monster Munch and Crunchips brands.
Pepsi has a 14.95 per cent hold of the market with brands such as Lays, Doritos and Cheetos.
In terms of snack bars, global cereal giant Kelloggs is the largest with 21.31 per cent of the sector.