Since the late 1990s the French market has grown by an average of 16 per cent a year and is now worth an estimated $549 (€385), according to the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).
In a report written for US suppliers, GAIN said France needs a large and varied supply of imported kosher ingredients to meet strong current demand and accommodate future market expansion.
The report said opportunities exist for US suppliers in a variety of sectors including additives, preservatives, flavourings, spices, condiments, sauces, citrus-related products and nuts.
High-value, gourmet-style products including snacks, soups, sauces, and confectionery were also highlighted as growth areas worth targeting.
Regarding market entrance, GAIN advised US suppliers wanting to penetrate these growth areas in the French kosher market, to approach wholesalers.
Described in the report as “market gatekeepers”, a small number of wholesalers, including Kineret, Emeth, Eldai, Yarden, Cepasco and Zouaguiu, handle about 90 per cent of the available kosher products in France.
The opportunities picked out in the report reflect the growth of the mainstream market, which now accounts for about 60 per cent of kosher food consumption in France, according to GAIN.
Mainstream consumers may be buying kosher products for the taste, cultural traditions and reputation for quality and safety. For these reasons, they are likely to be interested in a wide range of products and not just those that are linked to ethnic and religious traditions.
Other new consumers driving market growth include vegetarians and lactose intolerant consumers who are buying a significant amount of kosher pareve products because they contain neither meat nor dairy ingredients.
Muslims and other ethnic or religious groups are also turning to kosher foods. The report said this often due to lack of confidence in the halal certification process, especially for meat products.