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Commodity Innovation Series – Snapshot of opportunities in EU’s lentil sector

Canada is the EU’s largest supplier of lentils, worth C$167.9 million in 2016.

Market trends

  • Lentils are now seen as a major source of protein and iron across the EU.
  • They are an important part of Spanish traditional dishes, are well established in the Italian diet for their nutritional benefits, and are also fairly popular among German consumers.
  • Their performance in fresh food was limited by a shift, especially among younger consumers, towards more convenient packaged alternatives, such as shelf-stable, chilled or frozen products. In France, a significant part of the dry bulk lentil market is ethnic.

Lentil trade

Lentils in bulk

Top lentil markets in the EU
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Country Market share
Spain 26%
Germany 15%
Italy 15%
France 11%
United Kingdom 9%
Other 24%
Portugal, Poland, and Sweden were the fastest growing importers of lentils in the EU in 2016
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Country Imports (C$) CAGR*
Portugal 4,653,069 72%
Poland  3,843,130 45%
Sweden $3,726,656 33%
*CAGR: compound annual growth rate (from 2012 to 2016)

Lentils used as an ingredient

Top companies launching the most lentil-containing products and their top brands in the EU
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Company Number of variants Top brands
Marks & Spencer 119 Marks & Spencer
Tesco 37 Tesco
Asda 25 Asda
Waitrose 25 Waitrose Love Life
Carrefour - CMI 21 Carrefour Bio

Marks & Spencer launched 119 lentil-containing products from 2007–2016.

There is a growing emphasis on vegetarian claims

Top Five Growing Claims

  1. Vegetarian
  2. Social media
  3. Low/no/reduced saturated fat
  4. Low/no/reduced sugar
  5. Slimming

Top Five Declining Claims

  1. High satiety
  2. Low/no/reduced cholesterol
  3. Low/no/reduced carb
  4. Ethical – charity
  5. All-natural product

New packaging made up 8.4% of product launches containing lentils

Top Package Types

  1. Tub
  2. Flexible
  3. Tray
  4. Can
  5. Carton

Top Packaged Materials

  1. Plastic
  2. Plastic PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)
  3. Polypropylene plastic
  4. Metal steel
  5. Glass plain

Top innovative markets for lentils in the EU

The United Kingdom was the most innovative market for lentils with the most product launches containing lentil ingredients
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Innovation Criteria UK Germany France Spain Ireland Sweden Italy Finland Czech Republic Netherlands
Relaunch 5 2 5 2 2 5 2 2 2 0
New Product 17 19 16 19 19 16 19 19 19 20
Product Line Diveristy 16 15 12 14 12 10 10 9 7 6
Health & Wellness Claims 16 11 9 7 7 7 5 5 6 6
Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)

Factors of consideration

Recommendation for entry

How we can help

View our Agri-FoodTrade Services for information and support to help you achieve your international business goals.

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