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the revenge of the intensive model

“We must manage to say that we must work on the entry level,” said the Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau on Tuesday, on the first day of the Rennes animal production show (Space), Breton showcase of agro industry.

“Animal welfare issues only work if we find someone who pays” for products that cost more to produce, he added to professional poultry organizations.

The speech resonates particularly in Brittany, the leading breeding region, which today produces more than one in two French pigs and one in three chickens.

Criticized for its environmental costs (notably the proliferation of green algae due to agricultural waste), the intensive model that developed there after the war still has the wind at its back.

“We have an objective of reconquering” standard production, summarized a few days earlier in front of journalists Gilles Huttepain, senior executive of the French poultry leader LDC (Le Gaulois, Maître Coq, Poulets de Loué…) and vice-president. president of the Anvol inter-professional association.

On a national scale, “we would have to build 400 new henhouses per year as standard to regain market share from imports”, while one in two chickens consumed comes from elsewhere.

France is currently the leading producer of beef in the EU, the second for milk and the third for pork. The country also remains on the podium for eggs, even if production has declined with the avian flu.

Gilles Huttepain drives home the point: “We don’t want to become Switzerland. They have moved so far upmarket that they have folkloric (agricultural) production, and the rest is imports.”

“Radio silence”

In the world before the health crisis and the war in Ukraine, launches of organic or “committed” products were legion. Raising fewer animals per m2, reducing the use of cages for chickens and sows, increasing grazing for cows: it was the spirit of the times and in line with the recommendations of veterinarians.

But inflation has been there. According to INSEE, the price of food products jumped another 11.1% last month over one year. Result: the French favor lower prices, turning away from organic, sales of which for home consumption have fallen by almost 600 million euros in 2022 over one year.

Pascale Hebel, director in charge of consumer trends at the consulting company C-Ways, notes that only “30% of French people can afford to pay more for quality”, compared to 50% in 2017.

That year, newly elected President Emmanuel Macron shook up the agricultural world by suggesting “stopping production, whether poultry or pork, which no longer corresponds to our tastes, to our needs” .

From now on, “radio silence” at the Elysée on the move upmarket, remarks Gilles Huttepain. The executive talks about “food sovereignty” and reducing dependence on imports.

“The price, the price, the price”

Pushed by public authorities, supermarket brands and animal protection associations, the egg industry has almost turned its back on cages (one in four hens raised in cages today in France compared to still 44% in 2020).

Yves-Marie Beaudet, breeder and president of the CNPO egg inter-professional association, regrets this because purchases of eggs from caged hens, which are cheaper, have increased with inflation.

“Our problem is that consumer demand is the price, the price, the price,” adds the director of the pork inter-professional association Inaporc, Anne Richard.

Pork professionals have been criticized for not taking the move upmarket (less than 1% organic pork). “Perhaps the resistance that took place at the time was not ridiculous. People who invested in organic found themselves stuck” for lack of outlets, she notes.

Priority now on “competitiveness”, volumes rather than niches to achieve economies of scale and remain accessible.

“It’s a step backwards, going against the grain of the challenges we have before us”, in particular to develop – not only for the rich – quality food, regrets Mathieu Courgeau, dairy farmer and co-president of the Nourrir collective, which brings together around fifty organizations for an overhaul of the agricultural and food system.

For him, the return to favor of the standard is only an extension of what has been done “since the 1960s: producing more cheaply, whatever the hidden social and environmental costs”.

William

I'm William from America, I'm a food lover, often discovering and making new recipes. I started my blog to share my love for food with others. My blog is filled with delicious recipes, cooking tips, and reviews about restaurants and products. I'm also an advocate for healthy eating and strive to create recipes that are easy to make and use fresh ingredients. Many of my recipes contain vegetables or grains as the main ingredients, with a few indulgences thrown in for good measure. I often experiment with new ingredients, adding international flavors and finding ways to make dishes healthier without compromising on flavour. I'm passionate about creating simple yet delicious recipes that are fun to make and can easily be replicated at home. I also love sharing my experiences eating out with others so they can get the best out of their dining experiences. In addition to cooking and writing, I'm also an avid traveler, often visiting new places to discover local delicacies and explore different flavors. I'm always looking for a new challenge – whether it's trying an exotic food or creating a new recipe using unusual ingredients. My blog is a reflection of my passion for food and I'm always looking for new ways to share it with the world. Join me on my culinary journey and let's explore delicious foods together!

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