France is a world class competitor in agriculture products and food processing and clearly intends to maintain that position. France's major promotion organizations include the Societe pour l'Expansion des Ventes des Produits Agricoles et Alimentaires (SOPEXA) and the Centre Francaise du Commerce Exterieur (CFCE). In addition, the Compagnie Francaise d'Assurances pour le Commerce Exterieur (COFACE), France's export credit insurance agency, offers credit guarantees to exporters for market research and promotion, including participation in trade fairs in countries outside the EU. Total French government allocations to export market promotion by SOPEXA are estimated at $35.4 million; industry contributions to SOPEXA's international promotion budget totaled $44.2 million.
SOPEXA represents first and foremost a worldwide network with offices in 23 countries. Over 70 percent of SOPEXA's international promotion funds are targeted to EU countries, including 25 percent for Germany and 20 percent for the United Kingdom. (This percentage mirrors the percentage of French processed food exports to other EU countries.
Other major markets are the United States (9 percent) and Japan and other Asian countries (11 percent). (SOPEXA is one of the few European promotion agencies to promote actively in Asia, including China.) SOPEXA also maintains a delegation to the European Commission. Promotional activities are targeted at a wide variety of agricultural products. The major products promoted in export markets in 1995 were fruits, wines and cheeses. SOPEXA initiated promotions for meat in Portugal and dairy products in Italy and Russia. SOPEXA's budget for Central Europe and Russia targets dairy products and apples (Russia), instore promotions of French cheeses in Poland and participation in Hungarian trade shows. In Southeast Asia, SOPEXA distributes consumer information on French dairy products. Promotion of cookies, chocolate and other confectionery products also are conducted in Japan. SOPEXA, in conjunction with the French Prune Board, conducts...