Created earlier this month, the Association des Entreprises des Glaces (Association of Ice Cream Companies) has made Sylvie Galliaerde, director of international external relations at General Mills, its president.
Its seven founding members - General Mills France, Nestlé Grand Froid, Unilever, Rolland R&R Ice Cream France, Les Délices du Valplessis, Les Glaces Thiriet and YSCO – make up over 70% of the sales revenue of the French ice cream and sorbet market, excluding artisanal sales, and create 2,300 direct jobs.
Esther Kalonji, secretary general of the trade group who has worked at French food safety organisation Anses for fifteen years, told FoodNavigator the organisation will aim to create a suitable environment to face the legal, scientific and societal changes that are likely to have an impact on the sector.
“Our wish is to preserve and attach value to our ice cream-manufacturer expertise, but also to keep on offering quality products and innovations in line with societal shifts to customers.
"This process will enable us to build an identity of our own through a refocusing on ice cream manufacturers, whose sector is a mature one with specific issues [such as] specific regulation and consumption modes,” she said.
According to IRI data, the ice cream market in France contributed to more than one billion euros of supermarket revenue in 2015, and this number has been continually rising over the past ten years at an average rate of 2% per year. More than half of ice cream sales occur in the summer months of June, July and August.
Future trends and challenges
Last year market research company Mintel predicted that savoury flavours - from olive oil to cheese and bread - would gain mainstream popularity as they made their way from upmarket foodservice outlets to small-batch artisan producer and then to larger retail outlets.
But Kalonji said she has yet to see this trend. Nor have French retail shelves seen the craze for healthy indulgence ice cream, which can be seen in other markets such as the US and UK.
“Except [for] the extensive development of salted butter caramel ice creams, the use of savoury flavours appears to be adapted to niche markets and almost do not involve supermarket products.
"Furthermore, and since 2000, the diet trend represents less than 2% of the French ice cream market and seems not to have found its audience."
When asked about challenges currently faced by ice cream manufacturers, such as the shortage of natural vanilla pods, Kalonji said: “During the recent years, the ice cream industry in France does not appear to have been affected by the shortages of vanilla pods.
"However, this raises the larger question of the availability of quality ingredients necessary to continue to meet the needs of innovation and consequently consumers’ expectations.”
The new trade group is a member of the European ice cream association EUROGLACES as well as French food lobby ANIA.
The average French person eats around six litres of ice cream per year.