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France: “L’Allitou” - a 3 in 1 novelty

Brittany is the leading traditional shallot producing region in Europe. The Finistère alone produces almost 80% of French production. Prince de Bretagne’s producers commercialise 25,000 tons annually which they produce on over 1,500 hectares. The company has now launched 'L’Allitou', a novelty that in one and the same brand combines onions (rosé and red), garlic and the traditional shallot.

The shallots are planted by hand between mid-January and mid-April in plots covered with black mulching strips (this stops weeds, heats the ground and improves quality). In July, the shallots are harvested by hand and left to dry for a few days in the field- until they have a coppery-pink colour. They are then mechanically collected and stocked, sometimes in cold rooms so they can be sold year-round. One harvested hectare represents between 400-450 hours of work ! 

Prince de Bretagne only produces traditional shallots. They can be recognised by their asymmetrical shape and the callus at their base. Unlike onions which are single bulbs, the inside of shallots are made up of many layered cloves. The word “traditional” on the packaging guarantees real shallots and is often displayed prominently. For a few years now, producers have been demanding that seed shallots from Holland be removed from the market as they are in fact onions (shallots are planted, onions are sown). These shallots do not comply with regulations and, they argue, that their being commercialised as “Shallots” or “Shallots from seeds” is confusing to consumers. 

Pink Roscoff onions obtained their AOC in 2009 and the European PDO in 2013. Since then, Prince de Bretagne producers have been growing 2 types of onions : PDO Roscoff onions (1,000 tons/year) and Pink Breton onions (2,500 tons/year).  

Roscoff onions are produced to comply with the strict PDO guidelines. Only 24 communes around Roscoff can produce the onions. Sown between mid-February to mid-April, they are harvested mid-July. They are dried in the field for a few days before being stocked in a dry, well-ventilated space to be marketed up until the end of April. Prince de Bretagne’s 1kg plait of onions is not only iconic of Roscoff onions, but it is a natural way of preserving the vegetable. The “Roscoff onion PDO” label guarantees the origin of the product and that it has been manually cleaned by Prince de Bretagne’s producers. 

Prince de Bretagne also produces Breton pink onions which are produced outside of the PDO geographic zone and are cleaned, calibrated and packaged mechanically. Prince de Bretagne offers both types of pink onions in a wide range of packaging, including loose, plaited and sachets. 

Whilst white garlic has historically been produced in Brittany, volume had practically disappeared due to competition from the South of France and imports. Breton garlic could only stand up to competition in terms of quality, which is why Prince de Bretagne decided to develop the pink garlic market. They produce 15 to 20 tons/year over 4 hectares. 

To maintain quality, the garlic is grown and cleaned entirely by hand. The pink colour appears on the last layers of skin thanks to the meticulous cleaning. The garlic is planted between December and January and harvested in July. It is sold between August and February. 

For more information, please visit: www.princedebretagne-pro.com

Publication date: 9/18/2017
Author: Emma de La Croix
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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