The FFC: creation and objectives
Promoting French-made cutlery
The French Cutlery Federation (Fédération Française de la Coutellerie - FFC) was established in 1999 in Thiers, located in the French department Puy-de-Dôme, and includes approximately one hundred members. These members represent a wide range of companies from the cutlery sector, including the following:
The French Cutlery Federation aims to be a proactive force through representing and protecting French-made cutlery both on a national and global level.
The Federation aims to be an organization that is seen as a key reference in the cutlery sector.
The FFC’s goal is to perpetuate the cutlery business sector and to pave the way for the future of this profession both in Thiers and on a national level. The FFC intends to do this by pursuing a well-defined plan of action, including the following:
- Participating in the creation of several professional training courses and diverse educational and technical materials
- Developing marketing strategies and promoting French-made cutlery
- Organizing networking events and conferences as well as participating in trade fairs (Coutellia, diverse exhibitions in France, Europe and other continents, etc.)
- The creation, publication and circulation of documents, brochures, articles and other means of advertising that aid in fulfilling their goals
The FFC’s objectives
The FFC, as a representative of and privileged participant in the future of French cutlery, has numerous objectives. The following lists their principal objectives:
- Preserving the moral and material rights as well as the professional interests of individual and collective participants within the cutlery manufacturing industry before public authorities
- Promoting the French cutlery industry’s image nationally and abroad
- Establishing friendly relationships between companies in the cutlery sector and creating joint projects
- Strengthening the links and cooperation between diverse European or global associations and professionals
- Assisting its members to understand commercial and regulatory information technologies
- Encouraging innovative actions within the profession’s areas of expertise, specifically those which are creative and develop the sector’s economy
- Legally representing the profession and its members, specifically in instances when the collective interest must be defended
- Implementing actions that directly or indirectly promote the sector of French-made cutlery
- Developing friendly relationships between members
Above and beyond promoting French-made cutlery
The city Thiers and its convening role
France’s tradition of authentically manufactured quality knives is presently confronting a highly competitive global market, especially from Asian countries. The city of Thiers is the cradle of French-made cutlery, so naturally the city has been called upon to play a major role in the battle to defend six centuries of accumulated knowledge.
In the 1980s the industrial area provided a livelihood for some 5,000 people. Today there are roughly one hundred manufacturing workshops and approximately the same number of subcontractors that employ almost 1,000 individuals.
The factories in Thiers, including TB Groupe the leader of knife sales in France, produce 70% of the knives manufactured in France.
The FFC intends to defend this profession’s interests on a national scale. In the future the Federation will be focused on assembling all of the nation’s manufacturing areas in order to protect a rich national heritage.
In order to ensure the image of French-made cutlery in the public eye, a “Country of Origin: France” label might be created and used as proof that the product was manufactured in France.
Will France’s famous brands be brought together?
The FFC is in favor of precise and rigorous legislation on the origin of products in order to strengthen the movement.
Today the Federation is composed of 80 members (70% of which are manufacturers working in the Thiers region). The Federation has made no secret of its wish to represent all of the French cutlery companies, including the most famous brands Opinel and Laguiole.
It intends to surf the waves of success made by the independent label Esprit de Thiers® (Spirit of Thiers) in order to broaden its perspectives on a national level.
In June, 2015, a decree was published on the law n°2014-344 of March 2014 relating to consumption, called the “Hamon Law” (Loi Hamon), which might open new horizons and provide new tools that may help accomplish the Federation’s goal. Another contributing factor is the decision to include manufactured products in the Indication Géographique Protégée - IGP (a European label demarcating the provenance of agricultural products). Yet again, it is essential that all of the French knife manufacturers get involved.
Some friction exists between certain manufacturers that have yet to be resolved. For instance, there is some debate over manufacturing the famous Laguiole knives. Presently the IGP excludes the Auvergne region (where Thiers is located) from manufacturing these knives, much to the French Cutlery Federation’s dismay.
This historical pocketknife originates from the French department, Aveyron (located in the Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées region). However the cutlery industry in Thiers has shared its knowledge in the cutlery field with Laguiole since the 1800s; denying this fact seems nearly unthinkable.
The first step might be to open up the geographical area by regrouping the following departments: Allier, Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal, Loire, Lozère and Aveyron. After all, isn’t there strength in numbers?