Fruit and Vegetables: A Program to Reduce France’s Dependency on Imports

This year, the government has announced a €200-million sovereignty fund dedicated to fruit and vegetables. The idea is to decrease the need for imports at a time when half of the produce consumed in France currently come from elsewhere.

Over the last twenty years, French fruit and vegetable production has dropped, leading to the country’s greater and greater need to import. Half of all the produce consumed in France currently is imported, Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, points out. “And the trend is rising!”

Going into more detail, the proportion of fresh domestic produce (except potatoes) went from 64.6% in 2000, for fruit and vegetables combined, to 50.8%, i.e. a 14-point drop in 20 years. Faced with those figures, the government and the sector’s shared goal is to reverse that trend in order to ensure the nation’s food sovereignty. The idea is to raise the proportion of domestic produce 5 points by 2030 and 10 points by 2035.  “The goal is to reduce our dependency in a key food sector, regain our sovereignty and, in so doing, reduce the carbon footprint associated with imported produce,” the Minister added.

A €200-Million Budget

To achieve those goals, the government is aiming to trigger structural change by helping farmers lower their production costs and cope with climate change through evolving regulations, assistance for investment and research, and facilitating access to seasonal labor.   The fund has been endowed with €200 million (from France 2030[1]) for 2023. That sum will be divided into two categories: one for investments in farms (decarbonized green houses, robotics, automation, water-efficient equipment), and the other for research and innovation. The budget for the following years remains to be defined, but the minister has indicated that the program should last for about a decade.

Key Figures

  • France produces 2.48 million tons of fruit and 13.2 million tons of vegetables a year.
  • 405,000 tons of the fruit grown in France is meant to be processed (canned or frozen, made into purées, compotes, jams or candied fruit)
  • 611,000 tons of fruit is processed and sold in France by French agri-food firms
  • France is Europe’s 3rd-largest producer of canned vegetables and 4th-largest for frozen vegetables and processed fruit

Source: Agreste 2020

[1] With an endowment of €54 billion, the innovation and industrialization program was launched by the president of France in 2021