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Pierre Gélébart, Prince de Bretagne:

“The current economic context keeps the onion market balanced in spite of the drop in production”

The French onion production has been impacted by the summer drought, with a significant decrease in volumes. “Like most European producers, we have suffered from the heat waves of the summer,” explains Pierre Gélébart, product manager at Prince de Bretagne. “As a consequence, our yields have dropped by 30%, which is even lower than what we had anticipated.”

Besides this decrease in volumes, the 2022-2023 campaign is also characterized by a lack of large calibers. Such a configuration is rather problematic for the marketing of the famous Roscoff PDO onions. “The Roscoff onion braids can only be made with large calibers, so we will have less merchandise on offer this year.”

Photo credit: L'Oeil de Paco

The lack of volumes allows for a regular flow of products
At first glance, the situation seems complicated, but lower volumes in a context where production costs are on the rise and purchasing power is declining could actually be “a blessing”. “The production of Roscoff onions is very labor intensive,” explains Pierre Gélébart. “The onions are cleaned, measured and braided by hand. With the increase in labor costs, the products are inevitably more expensive for consumers, whose purchasing power has significantly decreased as well. With the same production last year, we would not have been able to sell everything and prices would have dropped. This year, the lack of merchandise allows us to sell at a regular pace, even in this difficult context. We believe that the producers will be able to sell all their onions, without having to lower their prices.”

Our onion braids are currently sold at a higher price, between 3.50 and 5 € [3.6 and 5.2 USD]. This price may continue to increase without losing any customers. “We will not compensate for everything, but selling all the production would already be a satisfaction. For now, the rest of the campaign looks promising, especially as we enter the holiday season, usually favorable for the consumption of high-end products like the Roscoff PDO onions.”

Photo credit: L'Oeil de Paco

The braid has evolved to meet the requirements of the AGEC law
This year, Prince de Bretagne is proud to present a braid made of 100% eco-responsible materials. “This is a big change from last year. Our new packaging complies perfectly with the requirements of the AGEC law. The braid is tied with linen, and the net and labels are made of cellulose and cardboard respectively. This packaging helps us stand out in comparison with a number of competing products that still use synthetic raffia.”

Price adjustments for the pink onion of Brittany
In addition to the Roscoff PDO onion, Prince de Bretagne also sells pink onions of Brittany, which are the same variety but do not follow the same specifications. “Producing this onion is much less labor intensive. They are not cleaned by hand, they are graded by a machine and packed in bags of 1kg and 5kg. This onion has a great reputation in western France. It is cheaper than a Roscoff onion but still more expensive than a classic yellow onion. For sales to go smoothly, prices had to be adjusted. We’ve had to find a price increase that would be acceptable for both consumers and producers. Sales are slightly less fluid than for the Roscoff onions, but the 30% drop in production means that we are able to find enough clients to whom we can sell our merchandise. In terms of quality, the onions are excellent this year.”

Organic production of Roscoff PDO onions and pink onions of Brittany 
The cooperative also sells Roscoff PDO onions and pink onions of Brittany which are grown organically. “The organic Roscoff PDO onions do not cost much more than the conventional ones, whose production is already very labor intensive. In this particular case, buying organic is not really more expensive.”

For more information:
Pierre Gelebart
Prince de Bretagne
Phone: +33 2 98 69 38 71
Mobile: +33 6 62 92 64 74 

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