The Nantes-based vegetable cooperative, Océane, has invested €3.9 million in doubling their shipping platform at La Chevrolière. They have increased the number of reception and shipping platforms and cold rooms. ''The vegetables are packaged (sorted, calibrated, bundled, wrapped…) by the producers. Our trucks go all over the countryside to collect the merchandise and centralise it at our logistics platform,'' explains Dominique Calais, the cooperative's Director General, ''the aim is to send out the mornings harvest, on the same day to our clients''.
This growth is in parallel to their increase in production and range of vegetables offered by their 69 companies. Océane represents a large third of the Nante basin's vegetable production. With 8,000 tons harvested and 26 million punnets, Océane is France's leader in lamb's lettuce. They are France's second largest cucumber producer (12,000 tons) and fourth largest tomato producer (43,000 tons).
Variety has increased to include both greenhouse products (tomatoes and cucumbers) and hand-picked radishes, turnips, onions and carrots. Dominique Calais says that ''we are the only ones in France'' to produce romaine lettuce hearts in trays.
The 2013-2014 winter was too mild for the vegetable sector, ''the lamb's lettuce grew too fast, we had to destroy a field''.
Harvest was plentiful in all European production areas, and lack of frost meant that nothing was wiped off the market, ''Our large retail clients are playing with the competition (Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany…) and prices are falling''.