February 16, 2011 / 6:05 PM / 7 years ago

France takes on Germany in global gastronomy battle

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - France unveiled a global campaign on Wednesday to re-conquer the world’s dinner plates and regain its standing as the gastronomic yardstick four years after Germany overtook it as Europe’s top food exporter.

<p>A woman looks at a food department in a super market in Nice southern France, February 25, 2008 as the country's National Consumer's Institute (INC) reported a raise of food prices between the end of November 2007 and early January 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>

Germany, known more as an industrial powerhouse, pushed ahead of France in the European Union’s 2007 food export ranking, as tough competition in the broader farm sector hit fancy French products like cheese, foie gras and fine wines.

Building on UNESCO’s listing last year of the four-course “French gastronomical meal” on its intangible world heritage list, France plans to showcase its food products around the world under an export campaign called “So French So Good” with a logo featuring a dinner fork interlinked with a wine glass.

The multimedia campaign will even feature mobile phone applications, Trade Secretary Pierre Lellouche told reporters as he unveiled the campaign three days before the start of the Paris farm show -- one of France’s biggest food events.

“You will be able to know where to find a French cheese in Shanghai or the best croissant in Istanbul,” Lellouche said.

He said French food needed to shake off an image of being stuffy and out of reach for ordinary people.

“We suffer from a gastronomical image that is too elitist, too expensive, too far away from people,” Lellouche said. “We aim to make this cuisine accessible and give people the taste to discover our products,” he added.

France’s market share of the world food market has fallen from 9 percent in 2000 to 6.4 percent in 2009 while, over the same period, Germany went from 6 to 7 percent, stealing France’s seat as Europe’s No. 1 food exporter.

“I like the Germans very much, German cars, but in terms of gastronomy I think we have to be better,” Lellouche quipped.

FOOD FIGHT FOR BASICS

The “French gastronomical meal” put on the U.N. culture and education body’s intangible world heritage list in November must start with a drink and be followed by at least four courses including a starter, fish or meat with vegetables, cheese and desert, and end with another glass of alcohol.

The “So French So Good” campaign will take the shape of special booths -- that can travel in kit form -- to be shown in 170 exhibitions around the world, with 12 countries put on top of the list including some neighboring EU countries, China, the United States, Japan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

There will also be a festival of French gastronomy the week of the national holiday on July 14, television clips, a website to be launched within 15 days, and mobile applications.

The campaign aimed at boosting a sector employing 250,000 people in France, will cost 2 million euros ($2.71 million) of public funding and involve 4,000 companies. Lellouche said large private firms were also asked, but declined to give names.

Additional reporting by Marc Angrand, Editing by Catherine Bremer and Paul Casciato

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