The French government announced a project called ‘New Industrial France’ late last year of plans to invest €4bn in 34 industrial expansion or start-up initiatives.

The initial proposal didn’t include any food industry projects, however ANIA, the French food manufacturers’ federation, lobbied for food industry projects to be considered and put a call out to its members to propose projects for the development of innovative new food products that were healthy, safe and sustainable, according to Noreen Lanigan of the Bord Bia Paris Office.

ANIA received over 530 applications, requesting a total of €2bn of investment with the promise of creating 90,000 new jobs.

Lanigan noted that ANIA recently announced that while the government won’t be able to finance all 530 projects proposed, as they would require 50% of the total funding available, they have drafted a strategic plan for the food industry based on the 530 applications and this plan will be one of the 34 projects to receive funding.

The recently announced French food industry strategic plan has five core pillars:

  • Functional Foods: with the objective to develop new products that meet specific consumer needs (ageing population, infants, allergies etc.)
  • Innovative Packaging: focusing on heightened food safety, more practical and appealing pack formats that are more environmentally friendly.
  • Become the leader in sustainable frozen food production to meet climate change targets while also optimising the quality of products.
  • Guarantee the quality and safety of French food and drink products with new real time tests.
  • Modernise French abattoirs with increasingly automated production lines to improve competitiveness and working conditions.

According to Lanigan the overall objective of the new strategy is to create 90,000 jobs in the sector by 2017. The food industry is already France’s leading industrial employer with over 492,000 people working in 11,800 companies. With a turnover of €160bn, the sector accounts for 20% of industrial turnover in France and 3.2% of GDP.