France Now Fifth Largest Agri-food Exporter in Europe11 May 2014
Despite maintaining its status as the leading agricultural power in Europe, France has seen its value share (18.1 per cent) of the EU’s agricultural production decline since 2000, according to Bernadette Byrne from the Paris Office of Bord Bia – Irish Food Board.
This is largely due to the accession of Romania and Poland to the EU. French production outperformed that of Germany (13.4 per cent), Italy (12.3 per cent) and Spain (10.6 per cent).
Despite still exporting significant volumes of cereal, wine and spirits, France is no longer the leading agri-food exporter in the European Union.
This is also true on the international scene.
In the last 10 years, France has slipped from second to fifth place, behind the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil, according to Agreste, the French Department of Agriculture’s statistical service.
The share of France’s agri-food sector within the country’s economic activity fell by more than half since 1980, mainly due to the decline in the price of agricultural products over the last 25 years.
In 2012, the sector accounted for 3.5 per cent of GDP compared to 3.2 per cent in 2011.
However, "at constant prices, the share of agri-food in GDP in 2010 is substantially the same as in 1980" notes Agreste.
The sector accounted for 5.6 per cent of employment in 2012, with 1.42 million persons engaged in agriculture, fishing and agrifood industries.
The number of farms continues to decline at an average rate of three per cent per year.
The trend is the same for the past 30 years, with small farms tending to disappear in favour of fewer but larger structures.
France lost more than a quarter of its holdings over the last decade, according to the latest farm census in 2010, with 490,000 farms compared to 664,000 in 2000.
As a result, the average farm size increased by 13 hectares in the same period to reach 56 hectares.
The agricultural landscape remains very fragmented, however.
A quarter of farms have less than six hectares while a quarter has more than 82 hectares, with 10 per cent of the largest holdings exceeding 143 hectares.