Normandy bets on agro resources and the food industry
The image of Normandy in France is often that of apple cider and cattle herds, as it has long been one, if not the most productive agricultural region in France. Much of its main exports are among the on-demand items in Nordic stores, such as cheeses or seafood. Anchored in traditions, it is always in touch with consumers’ expectations, as demonstrated by the important role played by organic farming. Indeed, innovation has always been in the DNA of the local agri-business sector, an upside that is today channeled through research centers across Normandy. Being in touch with today’s reality also means tackling head-on the Covid-19 crisis, which the region has done by setting up a comprehensive set of measures to support the local companies, protect the workers and follow public health guidelines.
Normandy: a European leader in the agricultural industry
Normandy is counted amongst the leading French region for agriculture production. 68 000 workers are employed by agricultural activities throughout the region, which is a significant part of the local workforce. Two-thirds of the total land area in Normandy is devoted to agriculture, supporting more than 35 000 farms, from apple trees meant for cider production to large cereal producers. The agricultural production represents 4 billion euros for the region, making the port of Rouen the first cereal exporter in the country.
The region proposes a large choice of public subsidies and grants, especially when it comes to supporting local companies for transition towards more sustainable and growth-oriented practices through innovation. These leverage mechanisms are outlined in agricultural plans, which give priority to high-stake fields for the future: food safety, quality of products, new agricultural practices, traceability. Every item is accompanied by tailored financial and technical help from the region. These plans are the results of a long-standing and fruitful partnership between local economic actors and regional authorities.
To help you navigate the public subventions made available by the region, AD Normandy is your privileged point of contact.
The food industry in Normandy
You might already be consuming products from Normandy
Indeed, the region is the largest French producer of cider, with around 450 producers. It’s a historic product, as city names around the region find their etymological roots in the Old Norse words for an apple tree, like Yébleron. Normandy’s products, however, are not limited to its world-renowned apple cider: the region ranks first in France for dairy cheese, butter and cream, shellfish, and various vegetables such as leeks or turnips.
30% of the agri-business revenues in 2018 came from dairy products, the figurehead sector of the region. With around 15% of France’s livestock and world-famous cheeses like the “Camembert”, the region is among Europe’s heavyweights generating 400 million euros from exportations. Cheeses are the main exports in many Nordic countries, for example in Denmark where it represents 40% of transformed products coming from France.
Furthermore, with 600 kilometers of the seafront on the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, the region enjoys a prime location for the seafood industry. The main occupation is the shellfish exploitation, with one of the most prestigious ones being fished in its waters: scallops.
Agriculture, fertile soil for innovation and organic farming
To continue its tradition of excellence in agricultural fields, the region is betting on two main aspects of tomorrow’s agriculture:
- Technology, through the creation of innovation clusters such as Actalia, which helps local companies to improve their practices and their products, or Valorial, which federate 360 actors around smarter foods, exploring themes such as digital transformation or sustainable practices. The region has set up an objective of improving the number of innovative agricultural projects winning national and European grants. To accomplish that, a booster program has been set up, AGRO-INNO, which aims at helping agricultural companies to scale their R&D projects.
- Connected agriculture: The regional business accelerator Fast Forward Normandy shall be focusing on this sector – the call for proposals is likely to come out after the Covid-19 is over.
- Organic farming: it is now a priority for the region: close to 10% of the agricultural surface of the region is now dedicated to organic farming. The number of companies making the switch towards organic practice has recorded double-digit percentage growth in the last years, forming a thriving community. The region contributes to this success through its choice to double the funding available for new agricultural practices focusing on sustainable development. Thus, since 2016, Normandy has spent 15 million euros for those projects and received an additional 25 million euros from the European Union for the same purpose.
Read more: Normandy against Covid-19
Contact the regional development agency AD Normandie for guidance in your investment project or to get support for Covid-19 related issues in Normandy.
Inward Investment Manager
Agri-food sector specialist
Phone: 33 (0)2 31 53 34 46
Cell: +33 (0)6 33 43 11 48