France is known for many things: romance, revolution, the Eiffel Tower. The cultural contribution that stands above all others, however, is fantastic food. Mealtimes have an almost holy resonance in France, with delicious and complex home cooking taking precedence over ready meals and fast food takeaways, even in workplace canteens.
With standards like that, starting a food business in France may seem counterintuitive. If you have aspirations of being the best, though, there’s no better place to challenge yourself - and there are myriad other reasons to move there too. Here are just five points to get your juices flowing, and sell you on the prospect of a French food business.
1. The prestige
While this may be less relevant for a restaurant, any company that produces food for distribution will benefit from being based in France. The country’s reputation for quality food is such that a ‘Made in France’ label will immediately help your products to stand out. You can also play on this in your marketing materials, building your brand around your location and the authenticity of your food. This shouldn’t all be bluster, though - you need the food to be good, too!
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A chef is nothing without their ingredients, and thankfully France has these in abundance. The country is heavily reliant on its farming sector, to the benefit of restaurants and food businesses everywhere. Striking up relationships with local farmers and producers will ensure you receive the freshest, highest quality ingredients, helping you to share the French food experience with the masses. Finding a way to preserve the quality of French food in a ready meal or similar packaged food could be an invaluable proposition for a food manufacturer.
2. The talent
Although business reforms are underway, France has long been known for its stubbornly high unemployment figures. This is a boon to many businesses, however, who have a wealth of talent to pick from for their new endeavours. World-leading universities and culinary schools make France a great location for qualified talent, with no shortage of aspiring chefs with their own unique styles, experiences and regional influences.
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While French culinary talent will invariably improve the authenticity and quality of your products, there’s also an abundance of lower skilled workers for food production, both in France and from around Europe. For entrepreneurs coming from the UK, being in an EU country will stand you in great stead after Brexit, with the easy availability of talent without having to wait for visa applications. Being in the EU also confers other benefits, including fewer tariffs and other barriers to trade that you can expect in either a ‘soft Brexit’ or ‘no deal’ scenario.
3. The location
This may shock you, but opening a food business in France probably means you’ll be living in France! This confers all sorts of advantages, business and personal. France is a great location to base any business, with strong trade links as an EU member and independent nation. Its reliable rail system, road network, deepwater ports, international airports and central European nation make it a dream for logistics. Base yourself in Paris (or almost any major city) and you’ll be accessible to the world for trade and business liaisons.
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France is a fantastic place to work, but it’s also an incredible place to build a new life. As well as the great food, you can benefit from beautiful countryside, historic towns and villages, world-beating beaches, rolling vineyards and all manner of weekend escapes. You’ll have a hundred new holiday locations on your doorstep, and depending on the nature of your work, you might even be able to base yourself somewhere more rural. This quality of life increase will act as motivation and mental stimulus, keeping you happier and improving the quality of your output.
4. The chance to improve
You might call it a baptism of fire, but nothing will prepare you for a long and successful career in the food industry like working in France. Whether you’re in the food production, preparation or restaurant business, the standards here are perhaps higher than anywhere else in the world. Plying your trade here will be an education no matter how experienced you are, and you’re likely to improve your business acumen, your industry knowledge and your language skills as a result.
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This isn’t to say that it’s a case of sink or swim, obviously. There’s room for just about every kind of food business in France - even fast food, which is becoming more popular among younger generations, and particularly as working hours increase under new labour laws. Come to France with a strong business plan, a good concept and a healthy work ethic, and you can make a success of almost any idea. Just be open to criticism and feedback, and don’t have any pretensions about how quickly you intend to develop, or in what direction. You’re likely to be led as much by customers and competitors as you are by your own instincts.
5. The market
French food is big business, and you’d be forgiven for wanting a slice of the pie. The food industry is worth around 180 billion Euros, and constitutes some 20% of France’s total manufacturing output. The 16,000 or so food businesses in France are mostly small companies and startups, too, with around 75% having ten employees or less. Small food businesses are the backbone of the French economy and food culture, and you could be a cog in that machine.
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France has always taken pride in using and promoting its own produce, and the government is taking further steps to ensure that locals buy French products. A new law is currently being debated to improve labelling for products like French honey, and increase the proportion of organic produce used in school meals. France is the second largest organic market in Europe, and grew by almost 15% between 2014 and 2015. The ‘smart food’ industry meanwhile is growing at around 4% every year, with investment bank BpiFrance committing significant resources to companies with intelligent solutions to food production issues.
If you need more information on company and branch formation, registering a new business in France, opening a bank account in France or for tax advice and help in finding an English speaking French Chartered Accountant, download our free guide below, and either call us directly on 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or email us from our contact page and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.