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Nestlé is the new market leader in Belgium as consumers are switching to capsules

Belgium

MILAN – Coffee consumers in Belgium are changing their habits switching from traditional filter coffee to capsules, a new study from market researchers GfK reveals. Last year, the sales of capsule coffee machines reached 260,000 units overtaking for the first time the sales of traditional filter coffee machines with 248,000 units sold.

The prime mover in that segment is Nestlé, with Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, and Starbucks by Nespresso capsules, which arrived in Belgian supermarkets last year, reports The Brussels Times.

According to research bureau Nielsen, the filter coffee market in 2019 was worth €196.9 million, down 2.6% from 2018.

The capsules market, meanwhile, was worth €99.5 million, 9.3% up from the year before. However, that figure is misleading: Nielsen only measures supermarket sales, and Nespresso capsules are only sold though the brand’s own retail outlets or online.

Nestlé’s direct sales are estimated to be worth another €100 million, placing it just slightly higher than filter coffee.

“Since last year, for the first time in its history, Nestlé is the largest coffee seller to consumers in Belgium,” said Oliver Perquy, CEO of Nespresso Belgium.

The evolution of the market is a blow to the dominance of JDE Peet’s, which owns the brands Douwe Egberts, Jacqmotte and Zwarte Kat. It also owns Senseo, in partnership with Philips. And while filter coffee was on the decline in 2019, the market for Senseo coffee pads was also slipping, by 5% to €75.5 million, writes the daily.

The change, Perquy explains, is part of the development of how Belgians approach coffee. In recent years, consumers have developed more sophisticated tastes, looking for better or more exclusive coffee, and turning away from the corner cafe towards an international brand like Starbucks, or the more artisanal approach of the trained barista serving single-origin coffees.

“As quality has become more important, people are switching to capsules,” Perquy said. “The taste of capsule coffee is much stronger. That was not an easy sale at first, because Belgians, like other Northern Europeans, were not used to the intensity of the Italian espresso.”

Nestlé is now launching its Vertuo brand in Belgium. Also using capsules sold directly online and through the Nespresso boutique outlets, Vertuo offers a range of capsule sizes, from the 40ml espresso to the 414ml lungo.