Market and Trade Data
Specialty Foods Find
Receptive Market in the Netherlands
See also. . .
FAS Report NL7021
Netherlands imported $580 million worth of specialty
foods from the United States in calendar 2006 out of a
total $19.2 billion worth. The U.S. food industry
competes with products coming mainly from the European
Union, Brazil, South Africa, and Canada.
Demographics Promote Specialty Food Growth
Economic conditions are positive in the Netherlands —
with growth at 3 percent in 2007, unemployment at 4.5
percent, and low interest rates. Food has become
relatively cheap, accounting for 15 percent of consumer
economy has combined with demographics to encourage the
purchase of specialty food products. More women working
outside the home have less time for food preparation.
Families, smaller and more affluent, are willing to pay
more money for convenience, quality, and variety in
foods. These families need smaller portions and tend to
buy more expensive, value-added products or meal
components when cooking. The 55- to 65-year age group,
in particular, has relatively high purchasing power
compared to other groups.
Traditionally oriented toward a healthy diet, physically
active consumers have become more interested in health
foods. Though growing, the demand for functional foods
(products that add to consumer’s health and well-being)
What Is a
Specialty Food Product?
Food and beverage products become specialty
products because of processing, packing, and
marketing. Popular specialty retail items
for the dinner cook include spices, sauces,
marinades, dried products, other condiments,
meal components (pasta, rice, noodles,
tortillas), and ready-to-heat meals. Other
best sellers: beverages, snack foods, bread
toppings, cake mixes, and desserts.
multicultural society promotes receptivity to new
tastes, products, and concepts — almost a fifth of
the country’s 16.4 million inhabitants are of foreign
descent. Indonesian dishes have been a significant
influence on Dutch kitchens as have Italian foods. Now
Tex-Mex and Surinamese cuisines are also popular.
Besides the choices offered by a diverse home crowd,
more consumers are traveling beyond Europe for vacations
and business, and they often enjoy newly acquired tastes
when they return.
The Dutch food service market is estimated at almost $17
billion, accounting for 30 percent of sales within the
total food distribution market. Analysts expect food
service to gain market share and level out at 35
percent, similar to other Northern European countries.
Restaurants dominate the food service industry, making
up over $8 billion, or 50 percent of sales. Most are
independent and work with local suppliers and
wholesalers. With 15 percent of the total food
distribution market, restaurants are considered fertile
ground for U.S. value-added products.
restaurant segment leads in introducing new cuisines,
tastes, and concepts. Asian cuisines, mostly Chinese and
Indonesian with Thai and Indian gaining, account for a
third of sales. Traditional Dutch and French cuisines
are also doing well, with Mediterranean (mostly Italian)
bars, the second-largest food service segment, with more
than $3.2 billion in sales, consists of outlets where
the focus is mainly on serving drinks, with little
opportunity for new products. Fast-food outlets account
for 20 percent of the market, and catering another 10
Supermarkets Dominate Retail Outlets
Supermarkets account for about 90 percent of the $36
billion food retail sales, with full-service outlets
considered prime channels for specialty food products.
The remaining 10 percent of sales occurs in department
stores, delis, and other stores.
Department stores and many smaller independent stores
offer only specialty products and often focus on
innovative and seasonal or event-related products, like
chocolates. Other retail chains have moved into food
retailing, by focusing on health products or a
particular cuisine. These formerly non-food chains have
also made inroads into the restaurant trade, with sales
valued at more than $400 million. Supermarkets have yet
to enter the restaurant trade, mostly due to size
focus on non-perishable, value-added products. Just a
few delis sell imported kosher foods, though only 5
percent of the estimated 30,000 Jewish citizens in the
Netherlands buy kosher foods on a regular basis.
Pinckaers is an agricultural specialist with the FAS
Office of Agricultural Affairs in The Hague,