The American cheese Philadelphia (Kraft Foods), essential in the United States in salmon bagels as in cheese cakes, could soon land in France, in the land of a thousand cheeses. Since October, the Kraft group’s cream cheese has entered the supermarkets of Angers, one of the test cities in France for the food industry. It is also sold, on trial, in the 265 Monoprix and Monop ‘stores in Paris.
Kraft Foods is considering the national launch of its cheese spread. The group, which recognizes the existence of a test in France, plans to communicate on this subject in the first quarter of 2011, he told the Figaro. With Philadelphia, Kraft – which was founded by a cheese maker (James L. Kraft) in 1903 – is betting on one of its blockbusters, launched in the United States in the 1880s. Its star product, which is the industrial cheese the most sold in the world, weighs 2.3 billion euros, according to Euromonitor. Twice as much as La Vache Qui Rit (Bel), which ranks fourth in the world, or ahead of Babybel (Bel), eighth.
However, its sales have stagnated for four years due to “the development of more refined cheeses” and its “too high exposure in industrialized countries, the United States in particular, where consumption has dropped,” analyzes Euromonitor. To develop its sales worldwide, the group (40.4 billion dollars in 2009) has long relied on the “power of iconic brands”, regional or local, 80% of which are number one or number two in their category .
In France, Kraft Foods – which acquired LU cookies in 2007 – hopes to capitalize on the notoriety of its brands (Côte d’Or, Hollywood, Carte Noire, etc.). It also bets on the dynamism of the cheese spread. “This segment has grown a little faster this year than the global self-service cheese market with growth of 3%”, explains Jacques Dupré, Insight director at IRI Symphony.
If a third of Philadelphia’s sales come from Western Europe, France could prove more difficult to attract. With 45% market share, St Morêt (Bongrain) dominates plain spreads. The Bongrain group’s brands alone (St Morêt, Carré Frais, Caprice des Anges) hold three quarters of the market.
Not to mention a new player in this category, the President brand (Lactalis), which launched in October, when Philadelphia was starting to be tested, its “Plaisir Nature” range. “St Morêt, whose sales continue to post double-digit growth, has shown its ability to withstand the onslaught of two competitors,” says Antoine Autran, general manager of Fromarsac, a Bongrain subsidiary.
Kraft has bet on a low-priced launch (1.59 euros for 150 g versus 1.83 euros for St Morêt) to make room for itself. The group has also deployed significant promotional resources, both on the shelves (events, sampling), in boxes (promotions, coupons) and on television, with a very educational spot. “It started off well thanks to the product highlights,” explains the manager of the department at the Intermarché d’Angers.
“It is a product that sells moderately, with half the volume sold than St Morêt,” says one at Leclerc in Angers. “I’m not sure that Kraft decides to launch Philadelphia given the inconclusive results of the test and a hypothetical profitability,” says Antoine Autran.
Kraft’s spread continues to have fans in Monaco and Paris, where it is sold at selective outlets to attract tourists and traveling customers. At La Grande Épicerie de Paris (Le Bon Marché), it has been an “essential” reference in the cheese department for the past twelve years. “We sell 300 products per week, this has allowed us, in particular thanks to cooking blogs, to have new customers,” explains Emmanuel Casabianca, CEO of Telemarket, who has been selling it for three months.