French jams – renowned for their gastronomic expertise

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October 2018

Many countries consume and manufacture jam, but some areas are not familiar with this tradition. However, products made in France retain a worldwide reputation for quality and gastronomic expertise. There are still excellent export opportunities available for Andrésy Confitures.

Jam is not a recent innovation! In 73 AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder mentioned methods for preserving fruit and vegetables in his Natural History. They were macerated in honey, wine, grape must or vinegar. At a much later date, cane sugar and beet sugar transformed the jam manufacturing process in Europe and France.

A sweet history of jam

In the Middle Ages, knights on Crusade discovered sugar cane in Syria and brought it back to France. But this product was expensive and jam remained a scarce commodity, which was the preserve of the wealthy and invalids.

Sugar beet then brought jam within the reach of everyone. Several attempts to extract sugar on an industrial scale were made in France and Germany, and Napoleon I became involved. When the British blockade in 1811 stemmed the flow of sugar cane from the West Indies, he encouraged cultivation and research in France. A year later, French chemist Jean-Baptiste Quéruel successfully extracted sugar from beet on an industrial scale.

This cheaper sugar allowed housewives to cook summer fruits and store them for the winter, and jam quickly became a popular indulgence.

Today, jam manufacturers are staying abreast of changing tastes among consumers looking for healthier, less sweet foods. New sweeteners have been developed from cereal syrups, aloe vera, agave, and stevia.

Jam recipes from around the world

Jam therefore has its origins in the need to preserve fruit from one season to the next. This is not an issue for countries with a tropical or equatorial climate, as they have access to fruit all year round. Jam is virtually unknown in these cultures. By contrast, Western Europe (Italy, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain) is the world’s leading jam consumer, and recipes vary slightly from one country to the other.

In Eastern Europe, plum jam is thick, like our prune paste, but sugar free. In Romania, dulceata is made from green walnuts preserved in sugar syrup. Russians make varenie from whole boiled fruits including pinecones, cloudberries, watermelons, ranet (a small variety of apple), sea buckthorn and redcurrants – depending on the region.

In Turkey, black cherry and orange jams are eaten with a cheese called kaymak There are also recipes using figs, bergamot and lemon, which are enjoyed with Italian cheeses and for dessert in pastry creations.

In Australia, kakadu plum and rosella fruit jams can be found, as well as Vegemite, which is renowned for its high vitamin B content. This black spread is made from fruit concentrate, brewer’s yeast, spices, and fruit extracts.

In the United States and Canada, maple syrup is very popular, as are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In Guyana, bissap, a type of red coloured hibiscus, is cooked.

«Traditional expertise and the quintessentially French touch »

The international appetite for jams made in France

France is the leading player in the European jam and compote sector, with 6,300 employees working in the fruit processing industry in 2015 (Source: Xerfi). Some 50% of France’s processed fruit products consists of jams and compotes, placing it in second place behind Turkey, but ahead of Italy. In 2016, French stakeholders in the sector made 20% of their revenues from exports (+ 2.4%), 40% (in value terms) in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the United States and Japan.

This shows the extent to which French jam is enjoyed beyond French borders.

Opportunities to move up-market with Andrésy Confitures

Andrésy is pursuing its export expansion plans based on its firm belief in the potential of foreign markets. Andrésy jams grace luxury hotels and gourmet delicatessens in Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. There are still promising markets to conqueror in Asia, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

As the leading player in the high-end hotel market, the company tailors its recipes to national cultures, whilst highlighting traditional expertise and French cachet.

It is also taking on new challenges by supplying top chefs and hotel professionals whose customers demand premium organic 100% fruit jams, with less sugar.

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