French specialist Bio stores had a higher (20 percent-plus) sales growth and market share in organic grocery and fruits and vegetables compared to the hypermarket/supermarket channel in 2016, a trend that has continued since 2011.

Outside the large retail groups Carrefour and Casino, which also have bio store banners, France had 2,606 organic specialist shops in 2016 and increased the organic sales area by 49,214 square meters to 561,732, compared to 2015, while the average floor space/points of sale for organics was 215.8 square meters, Natexbio said. And last year, net profit for organic specialists was +4.1 percent in 2015, better than conventional retailers.

According to AgenceBio, sales of fruits and vegetables and grocery products have maintained market share of almost 44 percent to specialized distribution through bio stores and 37 percent of all organic products, with direct sales from producer to consumer (13%) and artisans or traders (5%).

"Specialised distribution of organic products remains the most dynamic with a growth rate of nearly 24 per cent, with the opening of new stores and the increase of the average basket," AgenceBio says.

Direct selling had a slightly slower pace (+15%) due to adverse weather conditions in the production in 2016 and high demand in long marketing channels.

Organic food growth jumps for Carrefour

Carrefour, the major hypermarket/supermarket group in France for organic food sales, has around 20 percent market share. Carrefour reported in its group's 2016 full year sales presentation that organic food sales in 2016 had +32 percent sales growth.

Carrefour operates store banners such as Carrefour Market, Carrefour Express, leading online organic food retailer Green Weez.co, and Carrefour Bio in France, and Carrefour banners in Belgium, Spain, Brazil, China and many other countries. It reported net sales of EUR70.204 billion in 2016.

"On average, our hypermarkets carry more organic SKUs than supermarkets and supermarkets carry more organic SKUs than convenience formats," Carrefour told Organic & Wellness News.

"Regarding Greenweez, our online organic retailer, it carries the most organic SKUs with more than 20,000k. Our Carrefour Bio banner, which is a convenience format, offers over 5,000 SKUs. We have also developed our private organic label, called Carrefour Bio distributed throughout our physical formats, with over 800 SKUs."

 In France, we have 15 Carrefour Bio stores to date (the last opened in Menton). Carrefour aims to have 159 Carrefour Bio stores operating by 2021.

 Monoprix's Naturalia launches vegan organic stores

Groupe Casino, the other leading hypermarket/supermarket retailer in France with stores that have good ranges of organic food and products, operates food banners such as Monoprix/Monop, Casino Supermarkets, Géant Casino and Franprix. 

Groupe Casino also has the specialist organic banner Naturalia, which started in Paris in 1973 and became part of Monoprix in 2008. In June 2017, it opened three new Naturalia Vegan organic and 100 per cent vegan supermarkets in Paris and Vincennes that only sell organic and vegetable products. The new stores doubled the vegan product offer.

"NATURALIA Vegan is the first store to offer 2000 daily vegetable products, with a selection of quality, respecting the environment and the meat-free culture, guaranteeing all the benefits of organic farming," the retailer says.

Naturalia launched its first eco-concept-store in the heart of Paris in 2016, featuring around 2,000 products made with 100 percent vegetables. The retailer says the new store, "redefines the values of the local organic grocery store, with raw materials, a design which is always respectful of the environment, direct communication on labels and organic products, fruits and vegetables in the heart of the store, accessible food shelves, intuitive and palatable."

Naturalia opened 20 new stores in 2016 with another 20 expected to launch in 2017, operates 147 outlets and has seven franchises.

Monoprix is Casino's downtown brand and has a presence in more than 250 cities in France through its six brands. A subsidiary of the Casino group, Monoprix operated 763 stores as at June, 30th (including Naturalia banners), with a workforce of 21,000. For the second quarter of 2017, it had gross sales of EUR1.110 billion.

Second quarter 2017 sales for Monoprix were the strongest for Casino in France, with an acceleration in same-store sales to 3.6 percent and customer traffic up 3.5 percent, with online sales showing double-digit growth.

In October 2016, Monoprix said it has been a major player in the bio industry in France for 25 years and now offers around 2,200 organic references, including 460 from the Monoprix Bio brand.

"Monoprix wishes to offer its customers an ever more relevant organic offer and anticipate consumer trends on eating well and better and knows it can also count on its organic specialist store, Naturalia, to meet the growing demand for organic products," the retailer said.

And in September 2016, major food retailer Groupe Auchan opened its second Cœur de nature ('Heart of Nature') store in the heart of Paris, specializing in products for 100 percent organic consumption