Expenditures and Activities of
European Union (EU) Member Countries
Agriculture is a top priority in France. France intends to maintain its position as a world class competitor in food processing and agricultural products. France's major promotion organizations include the Societe pour l'Expansion des Ventes des Produits Agricoles et Alimentaires (SOPEXA) and the Centre Francaise du Commerce Exterieur (CFCE). The French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MINAG) and SOPEXA, France’s major promotion organization, conduct many programs and draft legislation to promote French agriculture at home and abroad. In addition, the Compagnie Française d’Assurances pour le Commerce Extérieur (COFACE), a credit insurance agency, offers credit guarantees to exporters for market research, promotion, and participation in trade fairs in non-EU countries. Total French government allocations to export market promotion by SOPEXA for 1998 are estimated at $6.5 million; industry contributions to SOPEXA’s export promotion budget totaled $48 million.
French Promotion Activity
During 1996, the Ministry of Agriculture and SOPEXA continued the use of point-of-sale tastings in foreign countries for dairy products, wines and spirits, and promoted the image of the "French Style of Living" and "French Cooking" through "French weeks" in foreign restaurants. The biggest event of the year was the wine waiter contest which involved 3,000 wine waiters from 24 countries. These waiters competed for a prize by demonstrating their knowledge of French wines.
SOPEXA, the French national market promotion agency, is a semi-private organization owned by the French government and agricultural and food organizations. SOPEXA’s funding comes from industry contributions (in some cases, generated from producer assessments) and the French government. SOPEXA’s total 1998 budget amounted to $99 million and went partly to operating and marketing activity expenses. SOPEXA’s total funding for export promotions amounted to approximately $55 million. SOPEXA’s budget for export promotions is supplemented by funds from the Ministry of Agriculture (11 percent) and individual commodity offices and food industry contributions (89 percent).
SOPEXA carries out almost all of agricultural export promotion activities. It has offices in 33 countries, including EU members, the United States, Canada, the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates), Eastern and Central Europe, Asia (Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam), and Brazil. SOPEXA maintains a special delegation to the European Commission and has 177 employees in foreign countries.
SOPEXA promotes French wine and spirits, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy products, seafood, meat, and poultry products. Sixty-two percent of SOPEXA’s international promotion funds are earmarked for EU countries (25 percent for Germany, 20 percent for the United Kingdom), the United States (13 percent), and Japan and other Asian countries (15 percent). Activities include in-store promotions, media events, developing promotional material, and organizing international exhibits, trade missions, and seminars.
CFCE is a quasi-governmental organization established in 1943 to increase French exports of industrial and agricultural products by providing statistical information, market studies, and consulting services to French exporters. Within the CFCE, the Office of Food and Agricultural Products (DPA) is responsible for the expansion of agricultural exports. CFCE target markets (in order of priority) are EU countries, OECD countries (non EU-Europe, the United States, and Japan, in particular), and Southeast Asia. While CFCE contributes to France’s agricultural export promotion efforts, its funding is not included in the expenditures table of this report because its activities are more akin to the statistical activities carried out by other countries’ governments.
COFACE, France’s export credit insurance agency, offers credit guarantees to exporters for market research and promotion, including participation in trade fairs in countries outside the European Union. COFACE became a private company in 1994, but may continue to provide government-assisted financing to riskier agricultural markets. In 1996, the French insurance group AGF became COFACE’s leading shareholder.
Other French government programs provide assistance to the French food industry and indirectly to exports, but are not included as export promotion assistance. The French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries annually supports special market studies, new agribusiness development, consumer food/health studies, and industry research and development, including the development of new food products, which indirectly aid exports. The French Ministry of Agriculture also funds agricultural product promotions and certification policies by financing the INAO (French Office for Appellation of Origin). Expenditures for these specific activities are not available.
Nearly all of the other EU countries conduct some form of market promotion in France. Products such as fresh or preserved fruits and vegetables, wine, beer, fish, and meats are commonly promoted through participation in trade shows as well as public and trade advertising and supermarket promotions. Countries lacking export promotion agencies often use their local embassies to conduct their promotion activities.
Non-EU countries promoting agricultural products in France include Norway, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. Norway exports mainly seafood--especially salmon--and wood to France. The Norwegian Trade Council (NTC) is a private agency responsible for the promotion of Norwegian goods and services and funded by the trade. Israel and Brazil market primarily fresh fruits and vegetables and fruit juices. South Africa also markets fresh fruits as well as wine. All three countries conduct promotions directly through their French importers. Argentina and Canada promote a wider variety of products, including meat and milk powder from Argentina, maple syrup, honey, horsemeat, lobsters, mustard seed, pulses, canola, and wheat from Canada. Both use their embassies to organize trade show participation and other types of promotions. Morocco promotes fresh, preserved and dried fruits and vegetables, as well as fish, spices, juices, wine, beer, biscuits, and candies through the Moroccan Center for Export Promotions (CMPE). CMPE is a public agency funded by the Moroccan government; its main activity in France is participation in the major French trade shows.