With France’s foie gras industry struggling in the wake of the coronavirus, the national industry association has launched a campaign to encourage tourists to visit the farms, this summer, in the hope of boosting sales of the fatty delicacy.
The Interprofessional committee of the Waterfowls to Foie Gras or CIFOG has created an interactive map of foie gras farms in the wider context of the advertisement to convince travelers to include this sector in the planning of their trip. The campaign is also hoped the card will make it easier for people to place orders online directly with some of the farms.
“Their order books have been cleared from the closure of restaurants, the prohibition of markets and the lack of visitors on their farms,” the CIFOG said in its announcement. “A lot of them are now facing great difficulties in selling their products.”
While the coronavirus has had a huge impact throughout the growth of the French economy, the sales of products deemed to be luxury products such as champagne and foie gras were particularly affected. During the whole of the country lockdown, which lasted approximately two months, sales of foie gras have fallen by 30%, according to CIFOG. For a few weeks, the market research firm IRI, which follows in French buying habits, placed down closer to 70%.
The pandemic is the latest blow to an industry that had already been in trouble thanks to a series of misfortunes. In recent years, the foie gras is increasingly the target for animal rights activists who consider the forced feeding ducks and geese to be cruel. That has led to the increase of the prohibitions of foie gras in places like California and New York.
These prohibitions are not directly the impact of the French industry, because it does not export to the united States. But the blow to its image has been severe. The CIFOG has responded by focusing on the family and the rural nature of the industry in France, as well as the economic impact of a sector that employs 100,000 people directly and indirectly.
In the midst of these prohibitions, the industry suffered another blow in 2016, and in 2017, when the Avian Flu forced the producers to kill thousands of animals to prevent the spread. And then, last year, French legislator has adopted a rule limited discount promotion sale of food in supermarkets. Products such as champagne and foie gras, which count on big holidays such as Christmas and the New Year, sales were hurt last year because they could not offer a 2-for-1 discounts. The CIFOG has considered the foie gras sales from November to January has fallen by 10% compared to the holiday season the previous year.
“Because of this new law on the promotion, last year, all these products have been affected,” said Eric Marzec, an analyst for IRI. “Products such as champagne and foie gras were really penalized.”
France is the foie gras industry is strongly concentrated in the south-west, and produces mainly ducks. In recent decades, the foie gras is turned into a product that is consumed throughout the year. But he is still very connected with the holidays.
The CIFOG has launched a national appeal in April, the begging, the French consider buying foie gras for the Easter holiday festivities. The ads implore people to eat foie gras! appeared in newspapers across the country. The industry has also participated in a national program to prepare the Easter meal for the workers health.
More recently, the CIFOG has launched a web-series to promote the foie gras. The videos feature chefs making their favorite recipes involving foie gras and other duck-related products such as duck breast and confit.
At the present time, the stocks of foie gras are on the rise in sales is slow. The good news is that the product has a long shelf life. Restaurants, a key source of sales, most of the time have re-opened. And there’s a certain optimism that the economy will recover enough to make for a stronger holiday season at the end of the year.
But for now, the concern is that the producers still have to slow production this year, which will continue to have a ripple effect throughout the rural economies.
“This activity contributes to the economic activity in these rural areas,” the CIFOG said in a statement. “These families in a way that is important and that is in the spirit of the local tradition in the development of green and gastronomic tourism in our country.”