RESEARCH: Water drives French soft drink growth

RESEARCH: Water drives French soft drink growth
03 Jun 2003
French consumers are drinking almost 40% more packaged water per
consumer than drinkers across the rest of Western Europe, according to
research from the beverage analyst Canadian.
The soft drinks market has been growing steadily in France with consumption
increasing in every year since 1993 and by a total of almost 30% in the same
period, the reports says. But packaged water is the overwhelming favorite.
Indeed increasing concerns about both the taste and quality of tap water
have resulted in low price spring water enjoying high "secondary" use in
cooking and the making of hot beverages.
Fuelled by prices that are significantly lower than those for other packaged
waters, still spring water is predicted to provide the catalyst for much of the
sector's future growth. The report predicts that still spring water will account
for around 43% of all packaged water consumed in 2003 compared with 37%
just four years ago.
The report says that, although far smaller than packaged water, carbonates
are easily the second largest sector. Consumption dipped slightly in 2002
following adverse weather in July and August but better things are expected
in 2003. Low and light calorie cola saw astonishing growth last year with
Coca-Cola Light and Pepsi-Cola Diet/Light up by 17% and a huge 225%
respectively. These drinks taste good and have a healthier image - helping
expand appeal outside the traditional audience of weight-conscious females.
In contrast to packaged water, carbonates consumption of 40 litres per capita
is almost half the Western European average. With strong brands and brand
owners, high marketing investment and the increase in informal eating
occasions, carbonates offer plenty of scope for further expansion.
Juice and nectars represent the third largest market. The decline in nectars
has been more than compensated for by the growth in juice. In all, per capita
consumption has risen faster than in any other major sector - by 60% since
"Water is clearly a huge and well established market. However it is still
viewed by the industry as offering potential for further development.
Observers will watch with interest as leading brands such as Cristaline,
Evian, Contrex and Volvic continue to jostle for position," says Canadian.
The retail market is likely to remain highly fragmented with the leading
channel, supermarkets accounting for only 14% of total sales. Although hard
discounters are still relatively under-developed in France, the number of
outlets has grown by almost 50% in the last five years.
After last year, the country will be hoping for a better summer in 2003. The
implications also remain to be seen from the likely reduction in American
tourists, disappointed with France's stance in the recent conflict with Iraq.
This said, Canadian predicts that the soft drinks market will advance by
around 3% in 2003 with consumption reaching almost 14 billion litres.