French tractor protests risk sparking food shortages in UK as furious farmers close in on Paris market

French tractor protests risk sparking food shortages in UK as furious farmers close in on Paris market

Protesting French farmers blocked the motorway outside Paris

Dimitris Kouimtsidis

By Dimitris Kouimtsidis

Published: 31/01/2024

- 19:07

According to a top trade official, widespread protests in France could disrupt Britain's food supply

French tractor protests have risked sparking food shortages in the UK, a top trade official has claimed.

This comes as agriculture workers across other countries in Europe have also joined rallies against rising costs and cheap imports.

This comes as part of an increasingly intense standoff with the French government over working conditions, incomes, red tapes and environmental policies.

Protestors are shutting down major motorways, creating huge traffic backlogs.

French farmer protests

The protestors are edging closer to Paris


At the same time they're also edging closer to Paris and the Rungis international food market, which produces food not just for France, but for other countries as well.

On Tuesday, farmers said they intended to surround the market, causing shortages in the French capital that could last for three days.

This has increased fears that Britain's food supply coming in from France could be severely impacted.

Marco Forgione, the Director General of Britain's Institute of Export & International Trade, said: "The farmers' action is potentially extremely disruptive for Britain given how much we rely on the EU for fresh produce at this time of year, but also given the current fragility of global supply chains.


Protestors blocking motorways in France

The protestors have shut down major motorways


"To put the potential disruption into perspective, about a third of all the food we eat in the UK comes from the European Union.

"Britain imports nearly half of its fresh vegetables and the majority of its fruit, both mainly from the EU.

"These strikes could halt the supply of much-needed produce if not resolved soon."

A police spokesperson however said that the protestors will not reach Rungis and will not affect food supplies.

Emmanuel Macron effigy

The protestors aren't particularly happy with Emmanuel Macron


They said: "Rungis is a red line, along with the city airports. A convoy heading up from the south west was stopped twice this morning, and it will not be reaching Rungis."

French authorities said there were still 120 roadblocks across the country on Tuesday, with more than 12,000 farmers and 6,000 tractors involved.

Farmers complain that they're losing revenue to other countries that have fewer constraints and lower costs.

Stéphanie Flament, a farmer of cereals and beets, said: "We're worried because they don't have the same regulations as us.

"It will be cheaper for the consumer, so where will consumers or companies turn to process flour and so on? To products that cost less."

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