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5 challenges facing the French food industry where HR can make a difference

By Arnaud Tribout, Senior Consultant AIMS France 

According to the ANIA, the food industry is France’s leading economic sector, with sales of €197 billion, and the largest industrial employer, with 450,000 employees. A pillar of the French economy, it makes a significant contribution to economic growth and job creation.

However, the sector is facing a number of challenges that require appropriate human resources management and give the HR function a key responsibility within the company.

The 5 challenges

  1. Recruiting: the food industry has recruited no fewer than 70,000 people a year in recent years. APEC reports that the sector intends to recruit over 4,000 managers by 2023. However, there are still more than 30,000 vacancies. 61% of recruitments are considered difficult (Pôle Emploi survey). Working conditions, lower salaries than in other industrial sectors, and the location of sites away from major cities can make jobs less attractive. Companies that have realised this are already working to improve their image and increase their attractiveness.
  2. Develop and retain employees: the food industry offers a wide variety of professions, with constant innovation and ever-changing regulations. This can be a motivating factor for employees, who will find variety and career opportunities, but it is also a constant challenge to develop new skills. Skills assessment, coaching and training are essential practices. The company’s values, culture and management style are also crucial to maintaining a high level of commitment.
  3. Maintain competitiveness: inflation in the cost of materials, packaging and energy, pressure from distributors on prices, fierce competition, demands for profitability from investors. These are all constraints that force companies to keep production costs down while guaranteeing product quality. They need to invest, carry out technical and digital transformations, expand internationally and constantly innovate.
  4. Supporting a CSR approach: Consumers and investors are increasingly sensitive to issues such as environmental impact, ethics, safety, transparency and governance. Mobilising teams around genuine CSR projects brings value to employees and makes the company more attractive to customers, suppliers and potential candidates. In addition, the food industry employs a diverse workforce, which may require effective management of cultural, linguistic and intergenerational diversity.
  5. Develop your agility: Economic fluctuations, health crises, the speed of innovation and frequent regulatory changes mean that players in the food industry have to be reactive and adaptable. Over and above technical skills, this calls for special personal aptitudes on the part of employees and flexible organisation and processes.

To stand out in a highly competitive and dynamic sector, food companies will have to rely on their talent and an efficient, flexible organisation.

Whether internal or external, human resources managers will have several levers of action at their disposal.

What levers for action?

Strengthen the search for talent:

  • Improve the attractiveness of the company by developing its employer brand.
  • Offer a professional, fast and ethical recruitment process that meets the new expectations of candidates and illustrates the efficient way in which the company operates.
  • Assess candidates’ personalities and motivations as well as their business skills. For example, using assessments combined with scientifically valid psychometric approaches.
  • Ensure that candidates’ personalities match the company’s culture (correlation between skills and values).

Develop and retain key people:

  • Define a competency framework and regularly assess their employees. This very powerful approach is simple on the surface, but requires a great deal of rigour and psychological skills.
  • Offer specific development and support plans that will set them apart from their competitors. Whether it’s tailor-made training, individual or group coaching, 360° feedback, etc.
  • Identify and nurture tomorrow’s talent (assessment, assessment/development centre, leadership development programme).
  • Offer an innovative work organisation that meets employees’ new expectations. A dedicated internal opinion survey would provide quality information that would serve as the basis for a transformation project.

Contribute to the efficiency and flexibility of the organisation:

  • Call on the external viewpoint of a consultancy firm to provide innovative and challenging options and a benchmark of other sectors
  • Offer support to the Executive Committee (board service, executive coaching)
  • Carrying out a cultural audit or working on the company’s mission can be a first step.
  • Think about the skills needed for tomorrow’s organisation and how to bridge the gap with current skills (65% of companies see this as a challenge).
  • Open up to other modes of governance and work on processes.
  • Encourage diversity and inclusion to increase the variety of skills and personalities.


Why call on AIMS International?

  • Sector expertise thanks to senior consultants who have held key positions in the agri-food industry and support professionals (certified coaches, psychologists)
  • A local approach, backed up by an international network (60 countries), enabling you to call on our services in any country, in any language, using the same methodology
  • flexible, adaptable organisation, guaranteeing rapid response times, particularly for SMEs and intermediate-sized companies that make up the majority of our customers
  • A comprehensive range of tailor-made solutions for recruitment, talent development, team training and organisational change.
  • commercial approach tailored to the customer. Possibility of nearshoring in Morocco for specific needs.
  • Personalised support, with one contact person for each project.

Are you ready to tackle the challenges of the food industry? Do you need an external viewpoint and professional support to recruit new talent, develop your organisation and build the skills of tomorrow within your company? AIMS International offers you its knowledge of the sector and its 30 years of expertise in leadership consultancy to help you stand out from your competitors and grow your teams and your business.