France Now Buying More Food From Neighbors Than It Sells

One export that remains steady for France is alcohol

French exports
French wine remains in high demand. ( Francois Nascimbeni/ AFP)

A report from the INRA, France’s National Institute of Agronomic Research, issued earlier this week, found that, for the first time ever, France is buying up more food than it’s selling, Forbes reported. This is “a big blow” to the country that has a long track record for producing everything the rest of Europe eats, like grapes and beef.

“France had imported food and drink to the value of 38.4 billion Euros from EU countries, most of it from Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the UK in 2018,” the report reads, according to Forbes. “French food and drink exports to the EU over the same period amounted to 38.1 billion Euros.”

One of the reasons France is falling behind is pride. The country is proud of its longstanding history of avoiding the modern day tactics of mass-producing and intensively farming — practices that their neighbors are now employing. Since France is refusing to give in to what it sees as lower production standards, the food it’s trying to sell in the international marketplace is much more expensive than its competitors’.

“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,” Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union, reported in The Times about French President Emmanuel Macron. She added that the French people can no longer to afford their own country’s food, especially when imports come at such a bargain.

One part of the industry that remains afloat for France is alcohol. Its exports of wine and cognac still greatly out-pace anything brought in.

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