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France - Complicated season for tomato growers

French tomato producers underwent a rather complicated season. After a spring with adverse weather conditions, the country is suffering from hot weather this summer with more production than demand. Marine Bougeard of Prince de Bretagne: “At the producer level, the 2018 season is really atypical.”
Amounts are greater than other years. “As the weather conditions were really specific, with record temperatures in the month of July, there’s a great amount on the market. As a result, prices are low. Consumption is present but isn’t dynamic enough, especially for loose and vine tomatoes. Another aspect that lowers demand is the high production level of kitchen gardens, where consumers grow their own tomatoes.”
A well-established market
“During the years 2008-2010, there was a real increase of the varieties proposed to the French market, with a big diversification on big fruits with all the old type varieties. Today, this segment has been well established, with must-have varieties such as clustered, bulk, and ribbed. The different varieties are strongly appreciated by consumers. Today most growth is generated in the berry segment, such as cherry and cocktail, and also in the pesticide-free tomato range.”
100% Natural and Tasty 
In 2017, Prince de Bretagne launched the brand “100% Nature et Saveurs” – 100% natural and tasty. It’s a range of tomatoes cultivated without synthetic pesticides. “Prince de Bretagne producers have been following good agricultural practices for years, employing auxiliary insects and limiting their use of chemicals. This new label, built by producers themselves, is the next step. Producers get involved voluntarily. This way of producing is still more difficult. Producers had to adapt their agronomic techniques and be even more watchful when taking care of the plants.”
This way of growing tomatoes is difficult, but rewarding. “The pesticide-free range is the real feature of the market this year. It responds to consumer demand, and market supply is growing for the second year in a row. This is a segment that is going well in supermarkets, even if for the moment it remains a niche market.”
A full range of 100% Nature & Saveurs tomatoes is now available, including on-the-vine tomatoes, round tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes. The pesticide-free range is especially successful for small fruits and packaged products. “The packaging avoids cross-contamination at sale points.”
The 100% Nature et Saveurs label wasn’t only developed for the French market. “In the future, we imagine to have good opportunities on markets where there is a high demand for sustainable or organic products, such as Germany and Northern Europe.”
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