The French seed sector can attribute much of its excellent international reputation to good climate conditions, crop diversity and bountiful output. During the 2012-2013 campaign, the sector exported 1.9 billion dollars’ worth of seeds, a whopping 15% increase from the previous year. These figures make France the world’s number one seed exporter, placing it ahead of the United States and the Netherlands.

A well-structured sector

The French sector has 72 selection firms creating new varieties of seeds and 249 firms dedicated to their production. During the 2012-2013 campaign altogether, these companies employed 15,000 people and generated a turnover of 4.2 billion dollars.
The performance of French firms relies significantly on corn and sunflower seeds, which accounts for more than half of the exported seeds and a turnover of 1.05 billion dollars.Retour ligne automatique
Vilmorin-Limagrain is the number one French seed group, controlling many companies in the sector, such as Clause, Tézier, LG seeds or Advanta. As for crops, it is ranked as the 5th seed company in the world and is number one in Europe. It also has a strong hold on the North American market through its subsidiary, AgReliant.

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Linseeds– Wikimedia commons

A strong International presence

Located in more than 150 countries, French seed companies are expansive and well-integrated in the global seed market. France has managed to remain adaptable to global competition by not limiting expansion to a specific region of the world. 70% of the companies’ exports stay within the European Union, Germany being the most frequent destination. Outside of the EU, Russia, Ukraine and North Africa are big consumers as well.

The Future of the sector

According to the FAO, the world’s agricultural production has to increase 70% by 2050 in order to feed the additional 2.3 billion people the world will host by then. The French companies of the seed sector are well-known for the development of new species, and have mobilized to meet this challenge. Seed breeders team up with lab scientists to produce new varieties that are more resistant to difficult climate conditions or specific parasites. The resultant increases in yield can be huge. For instance, the average yield of wheat has tripled in 40 years and corn, initially a tropical plant, is migrating farther North.