Agri-food Industries

Sandrine GAUVRY
Business development manager

A market dominated by Western France

One quarter of French agri-food industry jobs are located in Western France. At its heart, the Nantes Saint-Nazaire metro area has one of the nation's top research centres on food and nutrition. It benefits from a dense industrial fabric and the presence of the leading French port in the sector.

Advanced Research and Education

More than 650 students are trained each year at the University, Centrale Nantes or the École des Mines, which offer specialized programmes in quality control, chemical engineering, process engineering, sustainable development and more.

A new agri-food cluster near the future wholesale market

The Wholesale Market of Nantes is the second largest in France with over one hundred companies and nearly 1,300 employees. With the new University Hospital being built on the Ile de Nantes, the Wholesale Market is moving to Rezé, just south of Nantes proper. Its new location near the ring road will improve logistics and productivity. In 2019, the Wholesale Market and an agri-food cluster Agropolia cover twenty hectares.

Vegetables from Nantes lead the market

The Loire Valley helps make the region the leading vegetable growing area of France. With 500 years of history, the area has more than 250 farms growing 30 varieties of vegetables. Nantes is the market leader for mâche, cucumbers, radishes, leeks and lily of the valley. It ranks second when it comes to tomatoes. The sector provides more than 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Historically very present in Nantes Saint-Nazaire and in the Pays de la Loire Region, the agri-food industry has developed an environment designed to help it grow. Alongside the major corporations present here, such as Tipiak (prepared meals), LU and BN, a myriad of innovative SMEs are being created. 

Second largest organic department in France

For several years, the Loire Atlantique department has been supporting the organic sector and was awarded the label Committed organic territory in 2022. 21.4% of the viable agricultural surface is exploited in organic farming or in conversion towards it. This represents, in 2021, 1,228 farms with the organic label, the equivalent of 86,163 ha of land.

In order to raise awareness among future generations of the need to support this sector, each secondary school will be associated with a farm and educational projects will be proposed to students to encourage the link with organic farming among the youth.

Research and development covering a wide range of topics

Research and development are highly structured. The region has 14 research institutes and more than 40 teams and research laboratories. There are also dynamic clusters such as Valorial, Nova Child (dedicated to children) and Atlanpole Blue Cluster (marine bio-resources). A network of regional innovation platforms covers topics as diverse as packaging, organic farming and local distribution and consumption.

Cap Aliment supports innovation

The Regional Innovation Platform Cap Aliment brings together all the economic, technological and academic stakeholders in the agri-food supply chain. In 2015, the collaborative research, training and innovation programme Food For Tomorrow was formed, comprising Cap Aliment, Oniris (College of Veterinary Medicine, Food Science and Engineering) and INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research), to create a European interdisciplinary centre of excellence in the field of food and agribusiness. In 2017 Cap Aliment will have a 2,200-m2 technology transfer and development centre in Nantes bringing together companies, start-ups, technical centres and professional organizations.

A complete value chain

The entire agri-food value chain is present in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. All actors in the chain are present, from production to processing to distribution, as well as large organizations on the leading edge of research and innovation. This industrial environment is flourishing thanks to advanced facilities such as the CTCPA (Technical Centre for the Conservation Food Products) and high-tech tools and systems. 

Food innovation promotes quality

Beyond competitiveness, agri-food innovation in Nantes Saint-Nazaire targets quality, food safety and traceability, with major stakeholders such as the Human Nutrition Research Centre (CRNH), IFREMER, INSERM and the University of Nantes, which offers a pioneering Master Programme called "Man-imal" on food risks, an IDEFI (Initiatives for Excellence in Innovative Training) Laureate.

Leading French port in the sector

Connected to the world's largest hubs, the Port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire offers several weekly trips to the main hubs in Northern Europe (Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam) and Southern Europe (Valencia).

Key figures




businesses and institutions.
Revenue in the sector amounts to 11.8 billion euros.


students and 350 professors (University of Nantes, ONIRIS, Ifremer, INRA, INSERM, CNAM, Audencia).

Design / Packaging
The density of the regional agri-food sector stimulates the development of R&D in the fields of design, packaging and labelling. Companies of all sizes, including ArcelorMittal, Crown, SCA Packaging, Tracéo, Guilbaud, Tallineau and Knauf, are actively involved in research and innovative projects.
Traceability / Safety
Traceability is a key factor in food safety. Many companies in the metro area have specialized in this field, including Eurofins Group, global independent market leader in bioanalytical services, and STBII, which designs automatic pallet control solutions. The Timcod Group offers computerized traceability systems for mobile professionals such as forklift operators, order pickers, warehouse managers, etc.
Numerous leaders in the food processing industry, like Lu and BN for biscuits, Tipiak and Fleury Michon for ready meals, Eurial and Lactalis for dairy products, Terrena and LDC for meat and fish, are historically located in Western France, close to their production areas.
The Nantes region is known for its wine, in particular Muscadet, an important component of the agri-food sector. The local industry boasts research organizations on wine, as well as wine promotion agencies.