With the end of milk quotas, the increasing openness of economies and the increased volatility of international prices, the question of the competitiveness of the French dairy sector is at the heart of many debates. Competitiveness is generally defined as the ability of a company or a country to conquer and/or maintain market shares in the face of competition both on the domestic and export markets. The French dairy sector is not only an important player in European and international trade in dairy products, but it has some good opportunities in the domestic market, including for high-value products. The decline in domestic consumption (in milk equivalent), the gradual saturation of the European demand and competition from several other European countries are now an incentive to develop our exports to more distant markets showing a growth in demand. Compared to other European or international competing countries (New Zealand, United States), the cost of producing milk in France, especially in the West (main French dairy region), is favored by low inputs, particularly because of abundant forage production (autonomy for feeding dairy cows). The way of achieving such a high level of autonomy, however, weights today on the average level of labor productivity and on the structure of expenses (high cost of mechanization) due to the importance of forages now mostly grown, harvested and distributed mechanically.


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