In Cavaillon and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in the south of France, the Roux family grows exclusively organic pears, apples, old tomatoes and vegetables in greenhouses.
The family group started its organic conversion in 2007. Motivated by a real search for performance and the desire to fully embark on the adventure, the Roux family obtained the Organic Agriculture certification for its entire production 3 years ago.
“We chose to convert fully to organic so as not to have one foot in and one foot out,” explains Jean-Luc Roux, manager of EARL Roux Frères. “When we started to go organic, we noticed that it was necessary for us to think organic, harvest organic, protect organic. We had to be 100% organic to do it well. But besides this search for performance, we also found more pleasure in producing organically rather than conventionally. So we went all into organic agriculture, a choice which turned out to be an asset given the many clients now looking for suppliers who are 100% organic. It is a guarantee of professionalism.”
A search for quality through the brand “Les Fruits de Fabiola”
The group as a whole has its own brand called Les Fruits de Fabiola. The fruits packaged under the brand are selected for their taste potential. “For pears, we only sell the fruit with a minimum caliber of 65 under the brand Les Fruits de Fabiola. There is a real search for taste quality, with a ripe and melting pear. We chose to work with pears ripened like in the past when commercial circuits were made of wholesalers specialized in certain products. We have therefore revived this know-how. Always within this qualitative approach, we chose to market only older tomato varieties, packaged directly in the greenhouse to preserve their freshness as much as possible.”
A pear production severely impacted by the weather
The Roux family has about 25 hectares of pear trees for their own production. These include the varieties Guyot, Rosalyn, Green William, Red William, Conference and Passe Crassane. “We can double the production with the volumes from our partners. But this year, Mother Nature took care of the harvest early. The frost that hit the orchards on April 8th destroyed a large part of the harvest, especially in the production basins of the south of France. We were able to protect some of our orchards, but we were not able to save the harvest itself. The frost was followed by a cold spell during flowering, fruit setting and fruit growth, which led to the physiological fall of the fruit. Independently of the frost, these low temperatures have destroyed 35 to 50% of the harvest.”
In terms of quality, two elements must be taken into account this year. “The orchards that were not protected are giving fruit with a marked appearance, including frost rings, contrary to the orchards that were protected. Besides, given the weather we had in June/July, I have my doubts about the preservation capacity of the pears this year.”
Fixed costs that can only be absorbed with volumes
This low production leads to very high prices. “We’ve never seen these price levels during our career. Unfortunately, these prices, as high as they may be, will not be able to compensate for the loss of 60 to 70% in production. Some fixed costs can only be absorbed with volumes, regardless of the price.”
The Roux family sells its pears essentially through centralized stores specialized in organic products and to organic wholesalers. “We also work with large retailers through retailer brands. We have the expertise to serve supermarkets, especially with regard to consumer procedures and the supply of products in zero-plastic packaging. We export a small part of our production on the European market as well.”
About the family group
The Roux family produces exclusively organic products on two production sites: one in Cavaillon specialized in apples, table grapes and organic greenhouse vegetables, and another site in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence specialized in pear production. The production from these two sites is marketed by a commercial structure called SARL SV2 which completes the marketing of the Roux family production with the products of some partner producers.
“The expansion of our supply pool is driven by the friendly relations we have with some producers, as well as by the desire to complete our range with other local products and varieties we wish to promote.”
For more information:
EARL Roux Frères