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France: Despite acreage decrease chicory remains popular

Chicory is a vegetable that is considered old fashioned in France, however it remains very popular. Excluding potatoes, chicory is the most sold vegetable in France between December through until about March. It is consumed both raw as a salad and cooked. About 80% of households in France buy chicory an average 7 times a year.
Vincent Decool, Sales Manager at Perle du Nord says that this year, production has decreased due to the roots which have poor yield at the moment. Acreage of chicory production is at a historical low in France, with 8,000 ha to be harvested this year. Perle du Nord’s producers are located in Picardie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, where acreage has decreased by -20% and -23% respectively. Mr Decool says that “we have remarked a decrease in acreage, but overall the market has been relatively stable these last few years, thanks to the improvement of root quality and yield in the trays.” He explains that they have to be very careful when forcing the chicory to avoid having problems with the quality.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, between the start of the season in September and week 49, France marketed 34,000 tons of chicory compared to 35,900 tons at the same time last year, representing a 5% decrease.
Prices have been relatively good since the start of the season in September, despite a 3% decrease of store prices. Mr Decool explains that chicory is a product that is often on promotional sale; promotional prices in stores are currently around €1.30/kilo and usual prices around €2/kilo. He explains that a decrease of about 5% of production has been reported compared to last year, which puts this season’s sales on the same level as the 2011 season.

Perle du Nord exports about 8% of their production, mainly to Germany, followed by Spain and Italy. France only imports a small amount of chicory.
Mr Decool explains that they are trying to increase the amount of consumers and attract non-consumers. In January 2015 an advertising campaign on the radio, media and social media will be launched, it is the first time in at least five years that they have turned to such a campaign to promote chicory.
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