France: Presence in Brittany important for Groupe Marais

Though their reach stretches beyond the French region of Brittany, Groupe Marais maintains a strong presence in the area. It's from there that they source a large portion of their cauliflower, their biggest item, and because they are renowned for their products from this region, it helps Marais sell their products all over Europe.

Annabelle Connan of Groupe Marais

“We want to be present in Brittany because it's a key place for vegetables in France,” explained Groupe Marais' Annabelle Connan. “That's why we have an office in Brittany and why we buy produce at the auctions there.” Marais' Brittany office consists of several buyers, sales representatives and drivers who work together to coordinate daily pickups of purchases and then process the orders they receive from clients which are spread out over France and throughout Europe. Being present in the region also gives Groupe Marais an advantage when it comes to selecting the best produce from growers who send their products to local auction.

“There are a lot of differences between growers and regions when it comes to cauliflower,” said Connan. “From the way the vegetables are picked to the kinds of standards observed during the growing season and harvest, and we know where to get the best quality.” Most of the region's growers are affiliated with the Prince de Bretagne cooperative, so all the cauliflower Marais sources from Brittany is Prince de Bretagne product. For Groupe Marais, the biggest product they source from Brittany is cauliflower, and from all the products they buy from the region they export up to 20 percent of it.

The warehouse of Groupe Marais in Brittany

“Production of cauliflower has been decreasing steadily while competition has been increasing in Brittany every year,” said Connan. “There are also more exporters, so there is more competition.” Abroad, Groupe Marais also has competition from Spanish and Italian exporters. Domestically, cauliflower producers in Normandy offer the biggest competition. But Connan, like many of the people familiar with Brittany, credit the region's climate as a big advantage.

“The climate is very temperate,” said Connan. “It's not so hot in the summer and not so cold in the winter, and that's very important here.” The disadvantage of sourcing product from Brittany, however, is the distance between the region and Marais' target markets, so transportation and logistics costs are looming high.

“Brittany has a strong cauliflower production,” said Connan. “But the costs of logistics are very high for us.”

For more information:
Annabelle CONNAN
Tel: +33 2 98 69 51 83

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