France’s food industry recorded a 6.8% increase in sales last year, despite “economic turbulence”, “extreme” climatic conditions and geopolitical unrest.

In 2011, revenue amounted to EUR157.2bn (US$197.7bn), France’s National Association of Food Industries (ANIA) said.

The trade body said France’s food industry remains the largest employer in the country’s manufacturing industry, with 500,000 direct employees.

However, ANIA warned of short-term “turbulence” for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 for the 10,500 businesses in the industry.

The trade body said the industry faces a “steady decline” in household budget spend for food, which has dropped from 17% in 1970 to 10% today. ANIA also pointed to a “continuing surge” in agricultural commodity prices, which increased by 31% in 2011.

“In 2011, French food companies have managed to stay the course in the storm, but the headwinds strengthen,” ANIA said.

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