France: Prince de Bretagne gets year-round production with new greenhouse

A new, high-tech greenhouse scheduled to begin production this year will provide Prince de Bretagne, the French grower cooperative located in Brittany, the ability to grow and sell their high-quality tomatoes throughout the year.

“This new glasshouse is especially equipped with lights, so we can have production year-round,” explained Prince de Bretagne's Gaëlle Juton. The new structure will also boost the volume of tomatoes the cooperative can grow throughout the year. Currently, Prince de Bretagne has 120 growers, who grow tomatoes under protected growing structures on 180 hectares of land. The coeur de boeuf, or beefsteak, is emerging and is the second product in volume and will initially benefit from the new structure. Their main variety is TOV, which is 75% of their volume.

“The coeur de boeuf is a product that you need to know very well to manage the quality,” said Juton. “It's also not grown very much in winter, so we could find a market for it.” Because of the region's temperate climate, Brittany's growers already enjoy an advantage in their ability to grow produce long after many of Europe's growers have ceased production for the winter. In fact, Juton noted that given the competition from low prices throughout Europe, along with the region's reputation for high quality produce, Brittany's climate keeps the region's growers competitive. The new greenhouse will further augment that advantage.

“Most of the competition we get is during the summer months,” said Juton. “That's when local tomato growers compete and that's also when consumers can grow their own tomatoes, which causes disruption in our traditional outlet. ”

“The prices this year were very low for tomatoes,” said Juton. “We mainly sell tomatoes on the French market, so it was tough in September and October.” Exports predominantly go to niche markets in Scandinavia, the Middle East and Malaysia.

In addition to a new greenhouse, Juton said they're investing more in sustainability as well as research and innovations. “The growers created Prince de Bretagne to ensure the sustainability of the production. Working together was a first part of it, and working better is the second, form the beginning. That is why they integrated the research and experimentation more than 30 years ago.”

Going forward, Prince de Bretagne is also keeping up with changing consumer trends. Strawberries have become popular, so Juton noted that out of all their crops that are grown in protected environments, production for strawberries has grown the most. While last year's crop totalled 750 tonnes, this year's production, which takes place from March through November and includes the Gariguette and Marade bois varieties, will likely hit 1,000 tonnes. Similarly, Prince de Bretagne has expanded their kale production, as it has recently become a big hit in France, though, with only 5,000 square meters dedicated to that crop, production remains small.

For the near future, Juton said they'll focus on promoting winter vegetables for the upcoming holiday season. “We position this operation to support consumption. For example cauliflower is a good seller during winter but the consumption decreases around year’s end celebrations. New packaging will give festive aspect to all of them.” Prince de Bretagne will also make a push for their pink onions and baby vegetables, which sell well during Christmas.

For more information:
Gaëlle JUTON
Prince de Bretagne
Tél : +33 298 693 881

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