On October 7th the French Minister of Agriculture Stephane Le Foll revealed the nature of the French Public Food Policy (PPA) through the presentation of four revamped axes of the updated policy. These four priorities better reflect and support contemporary French society and represent the desire to establish high quality food and nutrition as a foundational aspect of French citizenship.
The Four Axes of the French Public Food Policy
The Social Justice axis has the goal of ensuring that everyone has sufficient access to safe and nutritious food. By recognizing and responding to the population’s different dietary needs and preferences depending on factors such as wealth, location, religion and health, this pillar of French Public Food Policy strives to leave no man behind when it comes to leading a healthy and active life.
Habits are acquired at an early age. That is why the French PPA emphasizes the education of its youth from the time they enter into the school system. This axis of the PPA has spurred the creation of many national school programs for nutrition and general food education. From kindergarten to high school, French youth are taught not only about the culture, variety and pleasure of food, but also about the breadth and importance of the food industry. The introduction and promotion of careers within the food industry to the county’s youth is a great way to raise awareness about the industry as a whole and foster a personal, mutually beneficial relationship between producers, retailers, cooks and consumers.
The Fight against Food Waste
This axis takes a holistic approach to combatting food waste from producers to consumers and everyone in between. Individual practices for waste prevention retain their importance, but distributers and retailers are also encouraged to contribute through donations of the unwanted, but perfectly sanitary products that are otherwise tossed out or destroyed. The State has committed to the financial and organizational support of associations that work toward renewable solutions with these retailers and distributers all while employing and rehabilitating the marginalized and disadvantaged members of society.
Reconnecting producers and consumers
The fourth and final axis aims to breach the gap between the agricultural industry and its consumers, with the overarching goal of supporting the French system of agriculture. Local communities and all stakeholders of the agrifood industry have a pivotal role to play in this effort and are called to assist by utilizing and promoting local products with cultural and economic ties to their community. The Ministry of Agriculture places a special emphasis on the incorporation of local and “terroir” (lien) products into the menus of community kitchens, such as school or work cafeterias, expressing its willingness to fund and support local initiatives that work to this end.
The renovations to the French Public Food Policy and their implications are not only the concern of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministries for National Education, Justice, Defense, and Health and Social Affairs have all joined Mr. Le Foll in the promotion and implementation of the specific policies that involve their respective governmental departments. The recently approved “Loi d’avenir agricole,” or future agricultural law, will be drafted with the express goal of carrying out the four axes of the Public Food Policy. But application of the policy has already begun. On October 9th, Minister Le Foll signed a collective agreement with the non-alcoholic beverage sector to reduce the average sugar content in drinks, limit television and internet ads and to commit to better industry-wide sustainability. The associated manufacturers collectively representing 80% the French soft beverage market, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have committed to a 5% reduction in the average sugar content of their drinks by 2015. Additionally, an inter-ministerial budget of 600,000 euros (apprx $760,000) has been set aside for public and private stakeholders willing to incorporate these new priorities in their regions of operation, with the goal of creating a snowball effect around the country.