The Roussillon-La Tour Cooperative, specialized in stone fruit with an annual production of 2,500 tons and 24 member producers spread out within a 30 km radius around Millas, is starting its peach campaign this week. “Besides cherries and apricots, we also offer yellow/white peaches and yellow/white nectarines throughout the season from June 15th to August 30th at the earliest and up to September 10th at the latest,” explains Jean-François Cottin, manager of the cooperative.
The cooperative is the first to offer 100% organic stone fruit in France and it has made the choice to diversify its offer with apples and clementines. “Our apple orchards are already in production but the clementine trees were planted more recently and will only be in production in 2024.”
© Roussillon-La Tour Cooperative
The frost only had a small impact on the production
Some producers have been severely affected by the frost, but the Pyrénées-Orientales department was relatively spared. “There was a black frost in some production areas, causing some damage for a few isolated producers, but overall, we were less affected than in other basins. Our loss does not reach the 50-60% of the Rhône Valley. For the moment, we estimate the loss at about 20-30% but it is only du ring the harvest that we will truly be able to evaluate the loss because we still have surprises in terms of defects and calibers.”
A slow market revived by the return of the nice weather
Despite the very good cherry production this year, the start of the campaign was rather slow. “The market was surprised by the large volumes at the beginning of the campaign. The bad weather and the lifting of the lockdown measures did not favor sales either. But since the beginning of June, with the return of the nice weather, sales are now turned again to summer fruits.”
Diversification of the production portfolio
In order to limit the periods with no sales and reduce the weeks of transition between winter and the end of spring, the cooperative works all year round thanks to a diversification of its production portfolio and its own packing station. “This allows us to have a larger production calendar. After the clementines in December, we continue until the spring with the field vegetables, and in greenhouses in the autumn/winter with campaigns starting in November for the broccoli, fennel, cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy and salads. We are constantly looking for diversification in organic vegetables in order to bring more organic vegetables to the shelves.”
© Roussillon-La Tour Cooperative
Looking for partners
Thanks to its marketing network, the cooperative plans to bring in other producers of the department, first in terms of organic plots. “Our vocation is to see organic players benefit from our marketing network, packing tools and expertise in organic production. We look for motivated producers who would like to invest with us, on apples, clementines, stone fruit or organic field/greenhouse vegetables.”
About the Roussillon-La Tour Cooperative
At the origin of the cooperative, Philippe Laville, historical actor in the organic production of the department, and other producers have succeeded in gradually gathering all the members around an organic approach. “In just 10 years, we have achieved a modal shift to a 100% organic cooperative.” Located only 15 minutes away from the shipping station of Saint-Charles International, the cooperative supplies supermarkets, stores specialized in organic products, as well as organic wholesalers.