French cuisine is well-known throughout the world. Macarons, salad Niçoise, crepes, boeuf bourguignon and Champagne are just a few favorites. France has influenced the culinary world in many ways. Food-related terms like bon appetit, cuisine, and gourmand are French. France is home to over 27,000 vineyards including well-regarded producers of fine wines and ciders.
The main campus of the famous culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu is also located in France. With a culture infused with a passion for food and drink, it’s no wonder that many people look to import French culinary creations.
When purchasing imported food and beverages from third-party sellers, there is an old joke that says, “you’re paying for the plane ticket, too.” This joke isn’t far from the truth. Third-party sellers must pay for the product, transportation costs, import taxes and still make a profit. The hefty markups on even small amounts of authentic French cuisine at fine dining establishments and specialty stores may not discourage seasoned connoisseurs, but it can certainly be costly for the general public.
Removing the importing middleman can not only broaden your shopping opportunities but can save you money in the long run. And if you are entrepreneurial-minded, you could even start your own food retail business!
Keep in mind, importing food from France may require more time and effort than you initially think. The process itself may be confusing and overwhelming. Don’t fret though, the following will help you with this process.
Are you ready to learn about importing food and drink from France? On y va!
While food does not rank among France’s top ten exports, wine certainly does. France is the second highest wine producing country in the world. Please note that if you are considering importing this delicious French wine, alcohol imports and distribution in the United States are far more regulated than food, requiring the involvement of yet additional government agencies.
When importing French wines, champagnes, or any other type of liquor into the United States for distribution or sale, you must first register and obtain authorization from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) . You also need to check with your local city, county, and state governments for additional regulations and required certifications. Prepare in advance as it can take many weeks if not months to obtain government permit approval.
The US Food and Drug Administration also has extra standards for importing alcohol beyond the ones that already apply to imported products. For instance, under the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s plant quarantine standards, some plant materials used in wine and beverage bottle coverings must undergo specific inspection.
If you’re reading this, chances are you are considering importing France’s world-famous cheeses. Brie, Comte, Roquefort, Mimolette…. who can resist?
There are 1,000-1,6000 different and distinct types of French cheeses available: soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, harder cheeses such as Emmental, goat cheese, and sheep’s milk cheese, just to name a few.
The EU grants Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status to a number of French cheeses in order to protect the authenticity of more uniquely crafted variants that necessitate “every step of the production, processing, and preparation process to occur in the specific region.”
However, importing French cheese has become much more challenging in recent years. Cheese is a time and temperature sensitive food product, making long-distance shipping a challenge. Moreover, FDA regulations effectively prohibit the importation of soft French cheeses such as Roquefort, Morbier, and Tomme de Savoie, unless the producing establishment has been specially approved.
Stop that Food!
Beyond soft cheeses, the United States refuses entry to a number of French food products. For instance, while France is authorized to send veal and pork into the United States, beef, lambs, mutton, goats, eggs, and chicken are not allowed.
The long-banned absinthe is now theoretically allowed for import into the United States. However, it needs to be “thujone-free,” the term “absinthe” cannot exist on the bottle, and no references or connections to psychotropic effects may be made on the bottle or associated documentation.
The Fundamentals of Importing Food and Drink
Importing requires a significant amount of preparation. Importing anything requires a lot of knowledge, planning and organization. This is particularly true when the imported goods are being used commercially.
However, one of the major benefits of France being a part of the European Union is the reduced hassle of importing/exporting goods. The EU has implemented a Combined Nomenclature, a variation of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding system, to make importing goods quicker and easier.
When importing food or beverages into the US, you will be subject to duties that vary depending on the country of origin. Duties are designed to stimulate local economic growth by providing an economic advantage to local suppliers and distributors, and are occasionally applied as a response to countries that impose high tariffs on the other country’s products.
In some cases, these duties may be paid at the postal service in the originating country if you are purchasing and importing food products that are being sent through the mail. Fortunately, there are exclusions that can eliminate these tariffs on imports valued below $2,500.
After you’ve selected a supplier or distributor, you’ll want to focus your efforts on correctly completing the prior notice documentation and procedures. Prior notices provide detailed information about the imported food or beverage to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). The information will include detailed information about the contents, packaging and shipping.
To ensure that all this information is provided where required, you’ll need to coordinate with your French food supplier or exporter. Due to language barriers and time zone constraints, this may prove to be more difficult than it seems.
Solutions like RudiCoder’s PriorNotify will save you from frustrations and wasted time spent on completing FDA paperwork. PriorNotify also provides a multilingual platform that helps you overcome communication obstacles and coordinate contact with your French food producer or exporter using secure technology.
As the French say: Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup – eat well, laugh often and love a lot. To experience all three, you can go to France or you can bring France to your home through importing.
You shouldn’t have to hope that your local corner store will have the French imports you’re looking for. Similarly, you shouldn’t have to overpay for these French products. If you’d like to start importing and/or selling French food and drink, all of the importing tools you need are now available online. The benefits are waiting; all you need to do is take the plunge!