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France Takes On Germany In Global Gastronomy Battle

France unveiled a global campaign Feb. 16 to reconquer the world’s dinner plates and regain its standing as the gastronomic yardstick four years after Germany overtook it as Europe’s top food exporter.

Germany, known more as an industrial powerhouse, pushed ahead of France in the European Union’s 2007 food export ranking, as tough competition in the broader farm sector hit fancy French products like cheese, foie gras and fine wines.

Building on UNESCO’s listing last year of the four-course “French gastronomical meal” on its intangible world heritage list, France plans to showcase its food products around the world under an export campaign called “So French So Good” with a logo featuring a dinner fork interlinked with a wineglass.

The multimedia campaign will even feature mobile phone applications, Trade Secretary Pierre Lellouche told reporters as he unveiled the campaign three days before the start of the Paris farm show – one of France’s biggest food events.

“You will be able to know where to find a French cheese in Shanghai or the best croissant in Istanbul,” Lellouche said.

He said French food needed to shake off an image of being stuffy and out of reach for ordinary people.

“We suffer from a gastronomical image that is too elitist, too expensive, too far away from people,” Lellouche said. “We aim to make this cuisine accessible and give people the taste to discover our products,” he added.

France’s market share of the world food market has fallen from nine per cent in 2000 to 6.4 per cent in 2009 while, over the same period, Germany went from six to seven per cent, stealing France’s seat as Europe’s No. 1 food exporter.

“I like the Germans very much, German cars, but in terms of gast ronomy I think we have to be better,” Lellouche quipped.

The “French gastronomical meal” put on the UN culture and education body’s intangible world heritage list in November must start with a drink and be followed by at least four courses including a starter, fish or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert, and end with another glass of alcohol.

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