"This winter was good for the lettuce sector, with good prices until mid-February,” reports Ghislain Rachet of the company BRM Production Agricole.
“Because of the high temperatures, the market has been tensing up little by little for a month. We had 25 degree days, so some parcels arrived at the same time, creating a surplus of merchandise and leading to a drop in prices. But apart from the Butterhead lettuce, the other varieties maintained their prices.”
BRM Production Agricole produces lettuce from November 1st until April 15th. Annually, it makes nearly 6 million pieces of lettuce, of six different varieties, including the lettuce, the butterhead, the blond oak leaf, the red oak leaf, the blond and the red lollo. 85% of the production is intended for the French market and 15% for export (to Switzerland and Germany). The company is based in Arles (Camargue region). “Our 53,820 square feet warehouse is located at the heart of our production area. The lettuce is cut in the morning and then washed and shipped to our clients on the same day.”
Different cultivation methods
In order to grow its lettuce, BRM uses three different cultivation methods. “At the beginning of the winter, we grow in the open field. In the middle of the winter, the lettuce grows under tunnel- or chapel-type covers. Our tunnels have been around for 25 years and we continue to use them. All we built in the past 10 years are the chapel-type greenhouses. They allow for a better quality of products. The air circulates better in them, which makes our products more homogeneous.”
Besides lettuce, BRM Production Agricole also packs organic and conventional yellow Charentais melons. “We have been producing organic melons for two years. Today, we make approximately 500 tons per year. Everything is produced in the Camargue region between mid-June and mid-September. Our organic production teaches us to eliminate some treatment products for the conventional melons, and also allows us to put a foot in the organic market, which is expanding rapidly,” explains Ghislain. As for conventional melons, the company produces about 10,000 tons a year.
BRM Production Agricole has existed since 2009. The company was born from the collaboration of a producer, Mr. Frédéric Berlhe (EARL Mas des Sansouïres in Arles), a 20-year melon specialist, and the Société Nouvelle Henri Ricard, company specialized in shipping fruits and vegetables since 1936 in Noves. They came together to sell Frédéric’s production directly to the clients, who want more product clarity in terms of traceability, specification.
The company’s products are certified Global GAP. BRM Production Agricole is also working on the IFS certification for its warehouse.