Exporting guide to France
Opportunities across sectors
With a population of 64.7 million (IMF, 2019), a strong industrial base, and many large national businesses, France offers good export potential. Aerospace, automotive, energy, transport, agriculture and food are all large sectors. France hosts some of the biggest international trade fairs, offering access to French and international buyers.
Broad and sophisticated consumer base
The French consumer base is varied and sophisticated with high spending power. There is good potential for quality, carefully-packaged and competitively-priced products. Growing interest in responsible consumption as well as healthy and sustainable products also presents opportunities.
Expanding online sales potential
France is the third-biggest e-commerce market in Europe after the UK and Germany, with over 40 million shoppers actively buying online (Mediametrie, 2020). Its online retail market is expected to reach over 11.5 billion euros by the end of 2020 (FEVAD, 2019).
Opportunities for exporters
There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in France have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:
Growth potential for offshore wind
By 2023, France plans to have 2.4 gigawatts (GW) bottom-fixed Offshore Wind installed and 750 megawatts (MW) floating. The state has committed to offer tenders for 1 GW per year from then. This growing demand offers opportunities for service and maintenance suppliers and sub-contractors.
New opportunities to watch
Biogas should represent 7% to 10% of gas consumption by 2030 (Legifrance, 2020), with tariffs guaranteed for biogas injected in the grid. Hydrogen is also developing, with input from large French corporations in energy and transport. These companies are pushing the government to accelerate growth in the sector, mainly in green mobility (heavy vehicles and utility vans), and related infrastructure.
Food and drink
Increasing demand for convenience foods
With a turnover of €19 billion in 2018, a 160% increase in value in 10 years, this segment of the industry is growing (CHD Expert, 2019). This offers opportunities for UK convenience food suppliers, particularly those using ingredients that can stand up to scrutiny.
New demands and trends
France is Europe’s second largest consumer of organic food and drink, after Germany (Agence Bio, 2019). New trends include vegan wine and low-sugar energy drinks, offering opportunities to UK suppliers in these fields.
Innovative products and private label
Most key retailers are extending their offer in private label. Medium and high quality suppliers will be in demand. They are looking for companies with innovative processes, ingredients, flavours, and formats with the ability to supply small quantities and scale up.
UK innovation’s competitive edge
French carmakers are looking for novel manufacturing materials and engineering technologies, for which the UK supply chain is highly valued. The French aerospace sector recognises the UK’s investment in innovation, quality components and workforce expertise. UK firms have established a strong track-record supplying to major French original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Access to major players
The French market is a hub for important players in advanced engineering and manufacturing. Maintaining primary manufacturing plants and research and development centres in France, some of the most recognisable global firms, such as Airbus, Dassault, Peugeot and Renault, invest in the country and remain major procurers for the industry.
Many attractive opportunities open to UK firms
French OEMs source 67% of their inputs from foreign suppliers (30% from the UK). A current backlog of aircraft orders offers long-term opportunities for new suppliers outside the EU. French automotive manufacturers rely on components from the UK for their luxury models due to high standards of quality.
Corporate cyber security
The cyber security market is one of the fastest growing in the ICT sector. Main opportunities in France are authentication, authorisation; trust principles; identity management; cryptography; cryptanalysis; computer security (mainly in protection against malware); protecting privacy and anonymity; digital rights management; watermarking.
France is the second largest European country for deep tech and artificial intelligence financing. The government has dedicated €1.5 billion until 2022 including €700 million for research (ai for humanity, 2020). This is to improve the AI education and training ecosystem, invest in digital and telecoms infrastructure and encourage the development of machine learning and AI algorithms.
France is investing €1.4 billion in quantum technologies (Forteza, 2020) over 5 years with public and private sector, local government and EU support. The focus is on quantum sensors, cryptography post-quantum and quantum, and quantum computing. In 2021, the National Agency for Research will renew its “Quantum Technologies” call for projects.
Infrastructure and Construction
Grand Paris Express
An ongoing project which includes the creation of 4 underground lines, 68 interconnected stations, 200km of railway lines, and a brand new station. The related increase in urban redevelopment projects offer a unique opportunity for developers, subcontractors, transport operators, public and private investors, construction companies, architects, and urban planners.
2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Four new major facilities will be built for the games: one sport Arena (Arena 2), a Media Cluster, an Aquatic Centre and the Olympic Village (which will be turn into housing after the Games). Some of the Grand Paris Express lines and the new station will be used at Games time.
Opportunities for growth
Consumer behaviour in France has undergone several changes in recent years, as consumers seek to adopt more responsible consumption habits. France has been vocally supporting initiatives such as the G7 Fashion Pact – fashion is a major French industry, with direct sales annually of €150 billion (Institut Français de la Mode, 2019).
E-commerce is an increasingly attractive route to consumers
With 1.5 billion online orders made in 2018, an increase of 13.4% from 2017, French purchasing behaviour is adapting to digitalisation. Amazon receives on average 29.7 million unique visits by French shoppers each month (FEVAD, 2019 ). Other popular and established retailers are La Redoute, Veepee (fashion), FNAC or Cdiscount (electronics).