“In France, the consumption of French apples is in decline,” explains David Socheleau, manager of Groupe La Blottière. The company produces, ships and imports apples and pears. “The low consumption can be due to the weather, but the high European production this year can also play an important role. In some segments of the market, the price is key. This concerns especially wholesale markets, where we find apples that are rather cheap and not from France.”
Complicated market in the Middle East
The group exports a bit to other European countries, but mainly to the Middle East, Asia and South America. The market in the Middle East was complicated this year. According to David, this was due to the strong competition from the new production origins, like Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which are usually less present. “These origins were quite competitive, offering traditional varieties like Gala at low prices.”
In Asia, the market conditions are much more favorable, according to David. “The Chinese harvest was 30% lower than last year because of the frost. Asia also is a much more demanding market in terms of quality, which makes it less accessible for newer origins. The status of the French apple in Asia is quite good. If we want to preserve our added value and our selling price, we must continue to offer a product of superior quality. People are often willing to pay a little more for quality, but the gap must not be too wide.”
A unique brand
On all export markets, Groupe La Blottière sells its apples under its own brand “Apple Bird”. The company also has a branch office in Chile, so consumers’ needs in pears and apples can be met all year round. In France, Chilean products are also marketed under the brand “Apple Bird”. The French apples are sold there under the brand “Le Verger de la Blottière”.
The group also markets some exclusive varieties, like the Antarès® apple and the Sweet Sensation® pear. The company has started planting Qtee® pears, which should appear on the market in two years.
Demain La Terre Approach
Groupe la Blottière is one of the 13 members of the association Demain La Terre. “The difference with the other labels is that the approach is already very structured. This is a true CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) approach where products are guaranteed by the reference system. At the next harvest, we will propose our line of products “Cultivated without pesticides” under the label Demain La Terre.”
Since this year, Groupe La Blottière also offers a range of organic products. “I personally have more faith in approaches like Demain La Terre or “Cultivated without pesticides”, because they are cheaper, so more accessible to the consumer. Technically speaking, they make more sense as well, with clear objectives.”
About Groupe La Blottière
The family business was founded in 1961, and is currently run by David and Quentin Socheleau, of the 3rd generation. The group managed to bring together about 20 producers around the structure of Vergers de la Blottière, whose head office is located in the Loire Valley. The group also has a packaging station in southwestern France and a branch office in Chile.
For more information: