Aside from wine sales, the French agricultural sector is struggling to compete with cheaper, more intensively-farmed goods from overseas—are French people finding it difficult to buy French food?
France is incredibly protective of its agricultural sector—it has been the sticking point between France and the U.S. in the negotiation of their new trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). President Donald Trump has been threatening to increase tariffs on French food as a result of France not agreeing to include the agricultural sector in the trading agreements (France wants only non-auto “industrial goods” included and specifically not meat, fruit or wine).
Part of the problem is that France is resistant to allowing food to be mass-produced or intensively farmed; it wants to preserve the traditional ways of farming, of which it is proud. This means though, that food is much cheaper when it is produced by farmers in other European countries who don’t adhere to as strict agricultural standards as the French.
Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union reported in The Times, that President Emmanuel Macron’s approach to agriculture was pricing French food out of the market. “He told us to go upmarket but in the first six months of this year we imported a lot more poultry from Poland and Germany because it is cheaper,” she said. It has come to the point when French people cannot afford to buy their own food.
The deficit to the French economy is about €300 million, but many believe it’s a worrying sign and a marker of the health of the agricultural sector in general—even French cheese is suffering as consumers are increasingly turning to cheese from Ireland or the Netherlands (the growth appears to be in more “industrially-produced” cheeses for pizza toppings).
The only part of the food and drinks sector which is buoyant is the alcohol industry, where sales of wine and cognac are still far outselling imports, notably due to a huge increase of sales in the U.S and China of French wine. The French government reported in May that this success might be masking a more dire warning for the French agricultural sector in general.
Source FORBES: Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?
A new book equates the French president’s rise to a revolution. For much of France’s working and middle classes, it has been nothing short of a disaster.
Last September, French President Emmanuel Macron met an unassuming gardener on the grounds of the Élysée Palace. Introducing himself, the 25-year-old timidly explained that he was having trouble finding work. “I send résumés and cover letters… they don’t lead to anything,” he told the president. Many people in France can relate: The country’s unemployment rate hovers just below 9 percent, more than two points above the European Union average. The joblessness rate, meanwhile, is more than twice that for young people age 15 to 24.
Macron’s reaction, however, was less than sympathetic—almost as if he were hearing this problem for the very first time and wasn’t all that convinced of its seriousness. “If you’re willing and motivated, in hotels, cafés, and restaurants, construction, there’s not a single place I go where they don’t say they’re looking for people!” he exclaimed. Then he added, “If I crossed the street, I’d find you one.” Continue reading “The Travails of Emmanuel Macron”