In surplus at the end of the 90s, it plunged below the waterline from 2006 under the impact of a double offensive. The first, German, in meat in the mid-2000s. Very determined competitors who have used and abused the 1996 directive on “posted workers” to bring down their labor costs and oust French producers.
The second wave, shortly after the great recession, came from Spain and this time overwhelmed the grain, bread-making, fruit and vegetable sectors and pushed the meat sector even further. Iberian industrialists who reap the dividends of the “internal devaluation”, in other words of the sharp fall in wages. Bottom line, the food trade balance has been negative for more than ten years now and the deficit is growing year after year. It reached a record level of nearly 5 billion euros in 2017. It is therefore a new industrial stronghold that is sinking.
This diagnosis is confirmed by the performance differences over the past ten years with our closest neighbors and competitors: between 2007 and 2017, the production of food products in volume soared by 17% in the Netherlands and by more than 10% in the Netherlands. UK. This duo is ahead of Germany and Spain, whose results are very close, slightly above 4%. Another notch below comes Italy, then finally France, the only major agrifood power to post a negative result over the period. But it would be a mistake to limit our setbacks to foreign competition alone.
Xerfi Canal for Challenges (article originally published here)
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