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French fruit juice is recession-proof, declares group

By Jess Halliday , 16-Apr-2009

Fruit juice is still a dynamic, growing sector in France and is showing no sign of slowdown, according to trade organisation UNIJUS – although data do belie some trading down in purchasing patterns.

As the recession is causing consumers to take a hard look at their spending, some consumer categories undoubtedly lose out. But food is essential, and although people may seek cheaper sources, it is generally agreed to have some protection from the effects of economic downturn.

In the last few months some categories have declared themselves ‘recession-proof’. Chocolate, for instance, is being billed as cheap treat compared to splashing out on a new car, clothes, or electrical goods (even if the financial results of chocolate specialists such as Barry Callebaut have given less grounds for optimism).

Now the French Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle de Jus de Fruit has declared fruit juice recession-proof, after unveiling market figures at its annual meeting last month. It says fruit juices are the most popular beverages in France after alcoholic drinks and water, and represent a market that is “still very dynamic, still growing despite the difficult economic context”.

The confidence is based on data that indicates some 1579 billion litres of juice were consumed in France in 2008 (all channels) – up 3.6 per cent on 2007. Value-wise, sales were up 8.9 per cent to €1722 billion (excluding cafés, hotels and restaurants).

The juice on juice

However according to Nielsen, a market researcher, there are indications that juice-drinkers are changing their buying habits. Ambient juices, which have a longer unopened shelf-life and tend to be cheaper than chilled juices, saw 5.3 per cent growth in volume last year.

Juices from the chiller cabinet actually went into decline by 2.78 per cent.

Meanwhile, discount stores saw a 13.64 increase in volume sales, compared to just 0.61 per cent for mainstream retailers.

The French are said to be amongst the biggest drinkers of fruit juice in Europe – on a par with UK consumers, and just behind the Germans.

The main driver of growth is pure fruit juice, which saw growth of 9.3 per cent last year. This follows several years of growth in this sub-category, and pure juice is said to make up 45.3 per cent of the market.

Juice drinks based on concentrate saw 2.14 per cent growth; whereas volume sales of nectars dipped by 2.0 per cent.

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