Welcome to France’s largest pasture
Boasting 41,000 jobs (6.1% of jobs in the region, double the national average) and agricultural production worth around 2 billion euros, in Auvergne farming is a leading sector which ranks agrifood number two in the industrial sectors for its added value.
Auvergne has four areas of excellence: cereals which relies on production from the Limagne plain, meat with renowned beef products but also sheep, pork and poultry, dairy which counts 9,000 producers, and water.
In Auvergne, agriculture takes up more than 1.5 million hectares of utilised agricultural acreage, in other words 57% of the territory that has consequently been named France’s largest pasture.
The Limagne Plain is renowned for growing field seeds: cereal crops (wheat, barley, maize), oilseed crops (rape and sunflower) and sugar beet. 270,000 hectares are devoted to cereal production.
Limagrain, the fourth biggest seed producer in the world and a flagship grain producer, has its headquarters on Biopôle Clermont-Limagne in Saint Beauzire. Limagrain invests nearly 15% of its turnover in research and development (250 million) and employs some 2,000 researchers in 55 countries, which, along with INRA and Michelin, makes it one of the main research centres in the region.
Céréales Vallée competitiveness cluster draws together a set of unique skills in terms of innovation in cereals for the development of joint projects, with 80 members and nearly 900 public and private stakeholders involved in research, industry and training in the cereals sectors.
Le pôle de compétitivité Céréales Vallée réunit quant à lui un plateau de compétences unique en matière d’innovation dans les céréales pour développer des projets collaboratifs, avec 80 adhérents et près de 900 acteurs publics et privés impliqués dans la recherche, l’industrie et la formation des filières céréalières.
Céréales Vallée also runs the Territorial Innovation Laboratory (LIT) for Field Seeds, a partnership hub dedicated to the design, evaluation and dissemination of innovative solutions for and with farmers, organised around Limagne-Val Allier, an area of 200,000 hectares. The LIT teams up farmers, people involved in research, training and development, companies ranging from major groups to startups, State representatives, local authorities and civic associations who want to make their region a benchmark in Europe for the research and development of innovative solutions inspired by the principles of agro-ecology.
In parallel to cereal production and milling, there is also an industry focused on animal food (Alivert, Jambon SA, Pet Food Plus, Thivat Nutrition Animale).
In its mountainous part, Auvergne is an extensive livestock farming region geared to the production of milk and meat. Home to both the Salers and Aubrac breed of cattle, Charolais cows are also reared here. The “Ferrandaise” is an old local breed that is becoming popular again.
Although the main emphasis is on meat for butchers, the meat industry is also focused on poultry breeding (ten red labels), pork (“Porc d’Auvergne” label) and cured meats. Every year in October, Auvergne organises the “Sommet de l’Elevage” livestock breeding show in Cournon d’Auvergne, the leading event of this type in Europe.
The four biggest industrial groups in the sector are Arrivé Auvergne, Socopa, Doux and Celvia.
ADIV, the Agri-Food Technical Institute for the meat industry is currently French leader for providing R&D, audit, consultancy, specialist and training services to the meat industry. Benefiting from the ITAI (Institut Technique Agro Industriel – Food Technological Institute) qualification and a CRO (Contract Research Organization) approval, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Bpifrance, ADIV provides customised, modular services to support and structure innovation projects, thereby accompanying businesses, according to their needs, from an idea through to its industrialisation. For example, product range extension, increased added value for raw materials, creation of products using new processes or breakthrough innovation technologies.
With 109 mineral springs, Auvergne is the leading region in Europe for water production and boasts six national or international brands. Among these are Vichy Célestins and Vichy Saint Yorre, Chateldon, Rozana and the best known, Volvic. The mineral water sector is particularly well represented with Volvic, but also the Alma Group (Saint Yorre, Vichy Célestins, Chateldon and Rozana), Sainte Marguerite, Châteauneuf, Saint Diéry, Saint Géron, Arvie, SMDA (Mont Dore) and Aquamark (Laqueuille).
Auvergne is a major region for the production of cheese. In 2011, it produced 50,000 tons – a quarter of the French production of PDO cheeses. Amid a diverse range of cheeses, five farm-made designations enjoy PDO protection: Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert, Salers, Cantal and Saint Nectaire.
The biggest French companies are set up in the region: Sodiaal (Candia), Bongrain, Lactalis, 3A-Fromageries Occitanes, Société laitière des volcans d’Auvergne and some well-known local SMEs such as Dischamp, Walchli and Garmy, to name but a few.