French syrup and cordials for everyone

19-09-2017 Les sirops français, balade en provence
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Diluted with still or fizzy water, and made from fruit, flowers, aromatic plants or citrus, syrups or cordials make the perfect summer thirst-quenchers… and beyond.


There’s syrup and there’s syrup

Sirop Monin

Tim-Hoggarth via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

There are four types of syrup.  Some are made from cereals, plants, trees and fruit, using a range of production methods. Wheat, maize, barley and rice are the most commonly used cereals to make syrups. Plant-based syrups can be made from the stem (in the case of sugar cane for example), tuber or the whole plant. Syrups made from trees are made essentially from sap from the silver birch, maple or palm tree. Fruit syrups containing fruit extracts have a number of applications in the kitchen, either as a condiment, or a sweetening or binding agent.

Flavoured syrups, more commonly known as cordials, are essentially used in drinks and made from sugar, sugar cane, concentrated fruit juice or flavourings.  A powerful food trigger to evoke a flood of childhood memories, with classic flavours such as mint, grenadine (pomegranate), barley water, or less mainstream, chocolate, elderflower or cactus.  Big brands dominate the industrial and artisan cordial market in France, including household names such as Teisseire, Crozet, Bigallet, Monin, Moulin-de-Valdonne, Pagès and Guiot.


Did you know ?

Sirop artisanal

In France, only syrups or cordials that meet strict, regulated production requirements – namely for sugar content –  can be sold on the market. Citrus fruit syrup must contain at least 50% sugar (added sugar and fruit sugar) and 7% citrus extract. All other fruit syrups must contain at least 55% sugar and 10% fruit juice. Syrups specifying the name of a cereal or plant on the label must contain this ingredient as stated. Unlike other syrups, organic variants must be free from colorants and preservatives. Non-organic syrups may contain additional sugars to sugar cane and beetroot, such as those derived from cereals, including glucose sugar (from wheat, rice, barley and maize) and isoglucose, otherwise known as corn starch, which may be genetically modified.


The French Syrup market

Sirop de citron

According to the National Syrup Board, some 185 million litres of syrup are produced in France every year, representing sales worth 350 million euros, of which exports make up 15%. Own label brands account for just under half of total sales, while the iconic large, family bottles of cordial account for 62.6% of sales. Listed in order of importance, pomegranate (27%), mint (16%), lemon (12%), strawberry (10%) and peach (4%) are France’s most popular flavours.


On-trend: super-concentrated cordials

In 2014, the syrup market took a new turn with the arrival of super-concentrates marketed in dinky dispensers that fit in the palm of your hand.  Two French brands launched their products within months of each other with the aim of breaking into the on-the-go market dominated by products which fit easily in a handbag or pocket.   Solinest was the first to launch its brand Ouiz in four flavours: peach and green tea, blueberry and Acai berry, lemon and lime and red berry. Teisseire hit the shelves just four months later with Mix&Go, also in four flavours: apple and berry, orange and peach, citrus, and summer fruits. Both brands focus on promoting the product’s practical benefits and low calorie content by the glass – Mix&Go has only 3 calories per glass compared to Ouiz’s 7 calories – an appealing USP for consumers constantly seeking healthier products.  According to a recent study by Kantar, just a year after its launch, the super-concentrates sector already accounts for 2.2% of non-alcohol drinks sales.