As a major livestock, poultry and dairy producer in the European Union (EU), France consumes large quantities of feed. In 2011, France's compound feed production totalled 20.3 million tonnes, which is marginally lower than in 2010. This volume was manufactured by around 300 production facilities.
In fact, together with Germany and Spain, France is the EU’s leading producer of compound feed each with about 15% of total EU total production.
Total pig feed production declined in 2011, by 2.1%, according to the Coop de France Nutrition Animale/SNIA. Total amount of pig feed produced in France in 2011 was 5,535,500 tonnes.
Particularly sow feed production went down by 4.7% to 933,600 tonnes. Piglet feed decreased by 3.2% to 656,700 tonnes and finisher pig feed came down 1.3% to 3,945,200 tonnes. Total amounts of feed produced in France in 2011 was 20,339,400 tonnes – a decrease by 1.2%. Beef products fell by 2.0% following a sharp drop in demand in the second half.
Only poultry feed managed to remain close to previous year’s volume (-0.2%), albeit with differences depending on the type of feed: +2.2% broilers, 1.4% in waterfowl, and -3.8% and -2.5% for layers and guinea fowl, respectively.
France is expected to continue to be a major consumer and importer of soybean meal in the future. Farmer unions have repeatedly called for increasing independence in protein feeds, but under the current policy conditions and with no major genetic breakthroughs for domestic soybean or pea production imports will be the only solution.
In marketing year (MY) 2010/11, French livestock consumed approximately 7 million tonnes of oilseed meals. These mainly consisted of soybean meal (4 mt), followed by rapeseed meal (2.3 mt), and sunflower meal (800,000 t).
According to a USDA report, pea varieties available for the farmers have not benefitted from the extensive research and plant breeding programs that grains and oilseeds have witnessed. As a result, the uncertainty in yields for peas remains high, currently, making farmers reluctant to grow these crops.
As a result, oilseeds and pulses farmer organisations, as well as politicians, called for intensifying varietal research on peas, both from the public (National Institute for Research in Agriculture - INRA), and the private sector (seed industry).
Soybeans are still not enough adapted to the Western European climate to grow profitably. France is a strong opponent of growing genetically modified crops, but there are many French farmers, who openly say they would be happy to grow biotech herbicide-tolerant soybeans if they were approved for cultivation in France.
Some even go as far indicating the potential acreage of 300,000 ha of soybeans including herbicide tolerant varieties, which is twice as high as the target indicated by the oilseeds and pulses growers associations.