Overview of the food-processing sector

Food-processing industries: 17% of regional industrial employment

Normandy is a significant food-processing region. The sector, which is heavily influenced by the agricultural sector, relies on a condensed make-up of dynamic SMB often family-owned, but also on large national or international companies or cooperatives positioned after the main agricultural productions in the region.

The food-processing sector (including beverages) employs 17% of the industrial workforce in Normandy. This orientation is strongly influenced by Basse-Normandie who counts 24% of its industrial workforce in food-processing against 12% for Haute-Normandie (the rate is 14,5% for metropolitan France).

The Normandy food-processing companies achieved a revenue of 6,2 billion euros, which place Normandy in 4th place for French regions with 6,8% of revenue of national FPI behind Brittany, the Pays de la Loire and the region North Pas de Calais.


Milk and Meat: the two cornerstones of Normandy food-processing industry

In Basse-Normandie, 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 come from the “milk and meat” sectors.

Part of these transformed products benefit from the European or French PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and impacts local production.

Innovative sectors complete the offer: 4th generation salads, ready-cooked meals, prepared sea products, sweets.


Breakdown of food-processing companies in Basse-Normandie by sector of activity


 Breakdown of employment in food-processing industries in Basse-Normandie by sector of activity


Revenue for food-processing industries in Basse-Normandie by sector of activity


In Haute-Normandie, because of the harbor activities of the Rouen/Le Havre hub, the food-processing activity is essentially oriented towards grocery products and the transformation of imported raw materials (chocolate, tea, coffee…). Therefore, the contribution of the “dairy and meat” sectors is more limited: less than 10% of revenue for the regional FPI. On the other hand, the sector “other food products” that reunite in particular the grocery activities, globalize ¾ of the FPI regional revenue. Part of these produced products are exported. The Normandy cereal sector is also turned toward export, as the Rouen harbor is the #1 European harbor that exports cereal.


Breakdown of food-processing companies in Haute-Normandie by sector of activity


Breakdown of employment in food-processing industries in Haute-Normandie by sector of activity


Revenue for food-processing industries in Haute-Normandie by sector of activity


Fewer and fewer independent and regional companies

Numerous large companies are present in Normandy: Companies des Fromages – Richemonts, Lactalis Nestlé Ultra Frais, Bel, and Danone for the dairy sector; Bigard – Charal – SOCOPA and ELIVIA for bovine meat; Ferrero for sweets…

The decision-making headquarters are located, more and more, outside of the production units (notably in Ile de France). Each year brings its share of restructuration, site closures or takeovers of regional companies. The different sectors depend increasingly on strategies that exceed Normandy surroundings.


Export to be developed

In France, export represents important prospects for the food-processing sector. In 2013, the French surplus for agricultural and food-processing trade reached 11,6 billion euros, close to the historic amount of 11,7 billion euros in 2011.

The beverage sector (including wine and spirits) remains the primary export sector for French FPI with 30% of revenue achieved by export. Dairy products constitute the 2nd export sector (16% of their revenue achieved with exports). The 3rd sector concerns grain products and starch (flour trade not included) with 43,7% of revenue achieved by export. In 2013, The European Union remained the principal destination for domestic exported products (63% of French exports by value, against 71% in 2007). The other destinations are the United States and China.

The Normandy food-processing companies achieve, in average, 18% of their sales with exports (intra-community deliveries included). Europe is the principal client for Normandy FPI. But their limited size is often a handicap for durably conquering international markets.

The professionals of the food-processing industry can unite in order to export. Collective operations are organized by the food-processing and proximity service of the Regional Normandy Chamber of Agriculture, in France and abroad: tradeshows, welcome centers for buyer delegations, business meetings, and prospection missions in the targeted countries.


Euro_leaf_organic_agriculture.svgIn 2013, Normandy had 388 food-processing companies (60% in Basse-Normandie) – including baking points – who have notified their activity of organic agriculture to the Organic Agency. This figure is stable compared to 2012.