France steps up organic production as demand grows

French farmers and food processors are increasing their investment in organic production in response to growing demand for “bio” products, according to the latest figures. Data from French industry body Agency Bio revealed that, as of 30 June, 51,490 French farmers and businesses operate in the organic sector. Of these 35,231 are organic producers and 16,259 are “downstream” companies. This participation rate represents an increase of 9.3% in just six months, Agence Bio noted. In France, 6.5% of the country’s total agricultural land is used for organic production. And increasing numbers of French farmers are adopting organic agricultural practices. “Nineteen new organic farms (were certified) every day for the first six months of 2017,” Agence Bio noted. French consumption of organic products is also largely localised, with 71% of organic products consumed in France produced in the country. Excluding “exotic products” this figure rises to 81%. Country of origin consumption is an important issue in the French food sector and the country was the first to adopt mandatory country of origin labels in certain sectors such as meat and dairy. The controversial move has been followed by other European countries, such as Italy and Greece, but its detractors argue that COOL undermine the EU single market. Of the organic products that are imported to France, most are in the ambient grocery category and consist of items such as oils, spices, chocolate and sugar. The European Union accounts for “more than half of imports” and three quarters of French organic exports are destined for member countries. The French food sector is stepping up its organic production in response to growing consumer demand for organic products, the organisation observed.