Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Marc Fesneau explains how France has navigated the recent challenges of the food industry with “flawless” resilience
Mr Fesneau praises the country’s robust food chain and sends an important messages to visitors and exhibitors in an exclusive interview with SIAL Daily.
The food industry has faced multiple crises over the past two years. How did Europe and France manage to navigate the storm?
I would first like to acknowledge all the employees and managers who are working every day to support our food industry. The resilience of our food chain, and our agri-food industries in particular, is flawless. We saw it during the Covid crisis and we see it again today when it comes to dealing with the consequences of the war in Ukraine: our food chain is robust and allows us to protect ourselves from any major shortage. It is an invaluable asset.
In these crises, on both a national and a European level, we have always known how to work alongside agri-food companies, taking the necessary measures to sustain them and, more broadly speaking, to ensure their survival. I am of course referring to the support in the face of health crises and the measures we are currently implementing to contain inflation and deal with rising energy costs in particular. However, as Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, I am also prepared to take structural action and allow agri-food manufacturers to pass on their price increases: it is absolutely essential. While many today are caught in a vice between rising costs and weak or even falling revenues, I want to express to them once more my full determination to act alongside them. The sustainability of our industrial make-up, and therefore of our food sovereignty, depends on it!
I am fully committed to enabling our agri-food companies to get through this difficult stage; this means allowing us all to benefit from quality food, which is demanding from a health point of view, and comes from our national know-how.
The industry is making great efforts to reduce its environmental impact. What do you think are the next challenges and how do you intend to help members of the food industry face them?
Our agri-food industry is already doing a lot and is fully engaged in the changes at work to overcome the challenges of our time. We must remember that agri-food is the leading industrial sector in France with more than 400,000 jobs and 15,000 companies located throughout our nation. These are all women and men firmly committed to changing practices and being actors of change.
Faced with this path full of challenges, the Government always stands alongside those to join and develop our food industry. Every change must go through innovative investments and financing projects because change cannot simply be stated. It must be built, planned and financed. This is a dynamic that has existed since the first five-year term – first through the France Relance plan and now with France 2030, which combines the excellence of our research and the know-how of our agricultural and agri-food worlds. The fields of action are endless. They range from research on the quality of packaged foods to the deployment of new ferments and low-carbon production chains. France 2030 is therefore deploying more than €54 billion alongside companies – regardless of their size and sector – at the service of a country that is innovative, competitive and exemplary in the face of these changes.
Why is SIAL Paris important for the food industry?
SIAL Paris is one of those unmissable events for our agri-food industry, offering a unique opportunity for sharing, debate and forging links. This is why I wanted to be present for the inauguration alongside its organisers. I am convinced that what gives the French agri-food industry its strength is its ability to hold a leading position in a strong ecosystem, combining a quality agricultural model, research and innovation institutes with cutting edge ideas for the sector and distribution networks closest to consumers. It is these undeniable assets that SIAL is highlighting, particularly in the eyes of those who would like to set up their business in France. To them, I would like to say “Come, France is a land of quality food and agriculture where any business has its place”.
A message of “hope and pride” for the French agri-food sector at SIAL Paris 2022
French Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Marc Fesneau, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting inauguration ceremony on Saturday, says France’s agri-food industry is strong, diverse and fully committed to change. He sees all the companies attending the show committed to strengthening France’s “food sovereignty”. He also praised consumers, saying “each of us has the ability to support our food chain and all the players who make it strong. So, together, let’s be at the rendez-vous of our food sovereignty!”