The French Food Observatory: OQALI

A balanced diet calls for certain individual habits, but also for the foods offered to consumers to have an adequate nutritional composition. In order to be able to monitor the quality of the food supply, OQALI, the French Food Observatory, was set up in February 2008 by the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Consumer Affairs. It is run jointly by ANSES and INRAE.

Created in 2008 under the French National Health and Nutrition Programme (PNNS), the purpose of OQALI is to conduct comprehensive monitoring of the food supply by objectively measuring changes in nutritional quality. It is run jointly by ANSES and the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE).

OQALI was established under Act 2010-874 for the modernisation of agriculture and fisheries, and confirmed by the "EGAlim" Act of 30 October 2018.

Comprehensive monitoring of the processed food supply

OQALI's primary task is to conduct comprehensive monitoring of all the processed foods available on the market, by measuring changes in nutritional quality. In order to ensure that any progress made benefits all consumers, the data it collects on the nutritional quality of foods are processed taking socio-economic parameters such as average prices and sales volumes into account.

OQALI's missions: 

  • Collect and analyse nutrition and socio-economic data on processed products 
  • Monitor changes in the nutritional quality of the food supply, including retrospectively 
  • Provide insights for public (and private) actions and then assess them, with a view to continuously improving the food supply 
  • Provide information for concerted action between the public authorities and companies – charters committing professionals to nutritional progress, collective agreements, etc. – and monitor its implementation

These analyses of the food supply are carried out by food sector:

Baby food, Crackers, Cereal bars, Cakes and biscuits, Soft drinks, Soups and broths, Breakfast cereals, Delicatessen meats, Chocolate products, Fruit purées, compotes and desserts, Confectionery, Jams, Canned fruits, Cheeses, Ice creams and sorbets, Fruit juices and nectars, Infant milks, Margarines, Bread products, Ready-to-eat canned meals, Ready-to-eat fresh meals, Ready-to-eat frozen meals, Dessert mixes, Fresh dairy products and desserts, Fresh delicatessen products, Processed potato products, Hot sauces, Cold sauces, Syrups, Frozen snacking products, Frozen pastries and desserts.

This monitoring is designed to strengthen and sustain the partnership approach developed by the public authorities to encourage the different agri-food sectors to work towards meeting public health objectives and consumer expectations, thereby ensuring that the progress made benefits as many people as possible. 

The data collected

To fulfil its tasks, OQALI collects:

  • all the information appearing on product labels: nutritional values, nutrition and health claims, serving sizes, ingredients, etc.
  • socio-economic parameters: market share, average prices, etc.

Manufacturers and distributors, essential partners

Partnerships with food industry professionals are essential to secure OQALI's long-term future, as they enable:

  • easier collection of information 
  • validation of the nomenclature used for each sector 
  • incorporation of information for interpreting the results

To facilitate cooperation with professionals, a charter governing the operation of the partnerships (PDF in French) has been put in place. This defines:

  • how data are submitted
  • the public or private nature of the data collected
  • the conditions for using and distributing the data