Even in these troubled times, the French agribusiness industry is doing well, and following its April 27 announcement that 2008 sales reached €162.9 billion––a 5.5 percent rise over the previous year––the industry is optimistic for 2009.
The 10,000 jobs needing to be filled in this industry are indeed proof. With 412,500 employees in 2008, agribusiness is France’s second employer behind metal transformation but nevertheless remains tarnished by a distorted image with the younger population. Yet, according to the French association of agribusiness industries––Association Nationale des Industries Alimentaire or ANIA––employment offers are bound to increase due to the retirement during the next five years of 10 to 12 percent of employees in the industry, which will translate into 28,000 to 33,600 new jobs.
In addition, the industry recorded a 2008 bankruptcy increase of only five percent over the previous year, in comparison with the 12 percent rate for other industries.
These results are indeed positive in the current economic slump. The ANIA indicates that agribusiness executives’ only concern, however, is the price volatility of agricultural commodities. Actually, close to 90 percent of the 10,500 firms operating in the industry are small or medium sized companies that are more exposed to the erratic variations of agricultural commodity prices than sound multinationals.
The structural price hyper-volatility of agricultural commodity markets is thus a major concern that is far from contained to farmers only. According to a report of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council––ConseilEconomique, Social et Environnemental or CESE––presented by Christine Lambert, the FNSEA Vice President, thishyper-volatility has an effect on the entire economic chain, from producers to processors, to retailers and to consumers. It would therefore be appropriate to implement genuine regulation and stabilization policies, which would not only benefit all players but would also firm up a key industry in our economy.