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France: Exceptional 2016 plum harvest and plan to rejuvenate sector

Thanks to exceptional weather, the 2016 plum harvest was a success and took place over five weeks instead of the usual three. Fruits were collected from the orchards seven times rather than the normal four. 40,000 tons were harvested, compared to 36,000 tons in 2015.

The French plum sector in figures : 1,140 producers - €4,000 turnover on average/hectare - 11,5000 hectares of plum orchards - 40,000 tons of production - 3.5 tons on average/hectare - average orchard/farm size is 10 hectares. 

The BIP (the National Interprofessional Plum Bureau) explains that “The excessive age of the trees, the heavy social security, tax and environmental legalisation charges, the high cost of drying plums, weather restrictions, quality agricultural practices and weak farming structures have caused a serious deficit to plum production over the last ten or so years.” A Recovery and Competitiveness Plan (PRC) was launched in 2013 with aid from Government authorities who are supporting agricultural production until the PRC’s targets are achieved in 2020. They will support the plan with up to €12 million/year through a support programme to aid material and immaterial investments needed for production, drying and if necessary, processing. 

The BIP explains that the aim is for the sector to no longer rely on financial aid and to quickly rejuvenate the orchards and lead them to denser, more modern plantation techniques (at least 400 trees/hectare). 

By 2025, the orchards should be 50% more productive. Thanks to the rejuvenation of the orchards, a modern Ente plum orchard will start producing after 4-5 years, rather than 7-9. The PRC also plans to reduce drying costs by half by 2020. In a nutshell, the PRC is an ambitious plan. 

Publication date: 1/24/2017


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