Why consider Normandy for the food processing industry

Jul 14, 2022 | Food & Wine, Invest in France

Normandy is a significant actor in the food-processing sector, as it is a logical extension of its agricultural potential. The processing industry employs 17% of the regional industrial workforce and generates about 6 billion euros annually. The sector is composed of both dynamic local businesses, often family-owned, and large national or international companies or cooperatives. As their Nordic counterparts, often leaders in their industries such as Stora Enso or Tetra Pak, local companies also focus on innovation and sustainable packaging, with the support of the region.

Normandy is one of the driving regions in the processing industries  

It’s estimated that around 11% of agri-food businesses in the industry in France choose Normandy for their first implantation. It is due to the favorable environment for the sector that the region fosters. Capitalizing on centuries of expertise and know-how, the region trained in 2018 more than 12,000 professionals through 57 higher education institutes. From engineers to technicians, the agri-business enjoys a highly-skilled workforce, able to help the 870 companies in the sector to develop and thrive. One of the key components of Normandy’s success is the diversity of its agricultural companies, with the presence of French and European leaders as well as small companies with less than 10 employees, The region enjoys a very high percentage of agricultural lands, thanks to the absence of significant elevation and moderate urbanization, meaning that more than 31,000 agricultural exploitations already exist in the region, employing up to 70,000 workers.  

Read more: Normandy bets on agro resources and the food industry


Download your business guides

Do you want to know more about the strategic sectors in the Normandy region? Download our business guides to find comprehensive information on national and regional development strategies, calls for projects, testimonials from foreign entrepreneurs established in the region, and useful contacts to help you move your investment projects forward.

Slide 1 Desktop
invest france agri-food normandy
Slide 1 Mobile
invest france agri-food normandy

A diverse and high-performing sector that takes full advantage of the region’s upsides 

The processing industry in Normandy has benefitted from two major factors to reach its prominent place in both France and Europe. To transform the livestock, agricultural resources, and seafood into products present in all of Europe’s grocery stores, Normandy takes advantage of both its port facilities to export and the consumers’ purchasing power in surrounding areas. Thanks to these advantages, the region is the first French transformer of tea, coffee, and cocoa that are imported mainly in the port of Le Havre, one of the premium port facilities in France. Multinationals like Segafredo Zanetti and Ferrero Rocher have big manufacturing facilities in Normandy.  In Lower Normandy, the food-processing sector is the top regional industrial employer. This sector is essentially centered on the transformation of locally produced raw materials. In this region, 70% of FPI revenue comes from the “milk and meat” sectors.   

The drivers of the processing industry are of course the 830 companies that innovate and invest every year. International companies like Danone, Ferrero, or Lactalis take advantage of the local ecosystem, as well as smaller, historic companies such as Isigny-Ste-MèreLabeyrie, or Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye. These local companies benefit from the European, or French Protected Designation of Origin, which gives them visibility and authenticity, as it recognizes their know-how and historical roots. It is important to note that 388 of them have an organic product processing activity, a number that is growing every year both relatively and in absolute. To help these companies thrive, the Normandy region has set up a very favorable environment, built around three main points detailed as follows.  

Read more: All you need to know about Normandy, its assets, strategy and development agency

The food industry in Normandy


A sector rooted in innovation   

The agri-food and processing industries are rooted in innovation, to keep the competitive edge and provide consumers with the safest and best products. Innovation is created with three main components: high-level education, research & development, and regional support.    

  • High-level education in Normandy is concentrated in three main education institutes: the Normandy University, with 70,000 students and 2,000 teaching professionals; ESIX, a school that proposes engineering degrees in agri-food, specializing in production, quality, and flavor; University Lasalle, a member of the Lasalle International Network, with 2,800 students in Rouen in agricultural degrees.    
  • Research & development policy is created by several clusters across the region, such as Valorial and Actalia which we evoked in a previous article. Furthermore, we can mention the ABTE Unit of Normandy University which focuses on eco-processes, or the LILANO laboratory, based in Saint-Lô, which helps the dairy industry to maintain high standards of food safety throughout the processing and packaging process.  
  • Regional support, with a network of agencies and associations dedicated to creating the best environment and providing adequate support to the agri-food industry. AD Normandie, the regional agency for economic development, extends, for example, a whole range of services to foreign investors looking to set up their businesses in Normandy.  

 Read more: Emergency measures booklet for Normandy businesses in response to COVID-19 (in French)  

Contact the regional development agency AD Normandie for guidance in your investment project 

Aparajita Sen,
Inward Investment Manager
Agri-food sector specialist

Phone: 33 (0)2 31 53 34 46
Cell: +33 (0)6 33 43 11 48

Communications Manager
Communication Manager