The Breton cooperatives alone represent 50% of the French tomato market with 230,000 tons of tomatoes produced each year. Cultivated all year round in heated greenhouses, they are sold under the brand names Savéol, Prince de Bretagne and Solarenn.
The 3 brands recently partnered up to offer tomatoes “grown without pesticides”. Their promise to the consumer is that their tomatoes, although not biological, do not undergo any treatment. The seed or the plant may be treated, but not the tomato.
“We have been working on reducing the use of synthetic pesticides for a long time,” explains Marc Keranguéven, president of SICA, a cooperative of the Finistere department which produces under the brand Prince de Bretagne. Phytosanitary products have not been entirely eliminated yet, but they are being increasingly replaced by clay and bumblebees.
Presented as the “third way for agriculture”, next to the conventional and biological approaches, this collaboration includes all vegetable growers of each cooperative. They have all followed specific training to learn how to cultivate differently. According to Christophe Rousse, president of Solarenn, “this label is not based on communication, but really on the producers’ hard work.”
The three brands together hope that their zero-pesticide products will “soon” come to represent 30 to 40% of their tomato sales. Prices will be set by the distributors, probably somewhere between the prices of conventional and biological products. “There are additional costs, which must be valued,” insists the president of Savéol.
This “nature and flavors” union could progressively spread to other crops. Tests have already been carried out on the red kuri squash and strawberries, and the cucumber might be next. “We want to pave the way, but agriculture is not as fast-paced as the internet. It takes more time,” explains Gilbert Brouder, president of UCPT, the other cooperative working under Prince de Bretagne. “The most important thing is to not put up barriers between conventional and organic producers.”