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“Imported products make it easier to set up French products”

As the manager of Paris Select, Didier Ioli prioritizes the French origin for all his products, but he still has to start the season with imported products. “We started the French Gariguette at the end of February, but when it comes to red fruits (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants…), we market them all year round. We always give priority to the French origin for all varieties, as each product is associated with a terroir that gives them optimal quality. But in order to be able to offer the range during the long winter season, we also have to resort to imports.”

According to Didier Ioli, who is based at Rungis, these two offers complement and support each other, and they are in line with the reality of the market. “Today, there are unfortunately many preconceived ideas about imported products, which are pointed at because they are not grown in France. However, we believe that the interests of our producers, consumers and the products are better served by starting the season early in order to properly enter the French season.”

The French offer cannot always adapt to the demand
For the manager of Paris Select, consumption depends on a certain number of factors including the weather, especially when it comes to most fruit and vegetables. “People want to consume more and more locally. But when the weather is nice at the end of winter, consumers actually want to eat other products than apples, pears, bananas and oranges. They suddenly turn to summer products such as red fruits or stone fruits. However, the French supply cannot adapt so quickly to this demand and producers cannot anticipate this evolution of the demand linked to the weather, especially in a context of climate change where the seasons are more and more unpredictable. Those who decide to produce early often face additional costs, which they may not be able to absorb if the weather turns out not to favor the consumption of summer fruit. Therefore, in order to meet this very real demand, we are fortunate to be able to import products from countries such as Spain, Morocco or Portugal.”

Imported products make consumers more tolerant at the start of the French campaign
An interface which, for Didier Ioli, helps meet the demand from consumers, and also facilitates the implementation of French products. “At the beginning of the campaign, French products are often expensive without having reached their optimal quality. However, if consumers already have access to imported products of good quality, they then become more tolerant of the expensive French offer that has not yet reached its best quality. On the contrary, if we were to start the season with the French origin directly, expectations would be high and consumers could be more easily disappointed. This could have a negative effect on sales and prices would drop until the quality improves, which would ultimately have a negative impact on the French campaign.”

Didier Ioli and Romain Ioli

A matter of priority rather than purchasing power
Despite the usefulness associated with imported products, Didier Ioli still prioritizes the French origin. “We offer imported products, but we switch to the French origin as soon as it becomes available. Our company mainly sells premium products that sometimes cost twice as much, so the reality is that not everyone can or wants to buy them. Some French households really are in a precarious situation with real problems related to purchasing power. Other consumers prefer to spend the majority of their budget on local fruit and vegetables, or simply on leisure activities, technology and designer clothes. And those who prefer cheaper products are pleased to choose from a varied and accessible range. It is a matter of priorities rather than purchasing power for most consumers, which is fine as everyone is free to make their own choices. But in this case, imported products should not be condemned. As a company, we value imported products and only resort to them when necessary.”

Choosing for partnership rather than competition
Given the reality of the market, there would be much more to gain by working together rather than against each other. “We have to stop competing as we all could gain from partnering up. We are happy to be able to export our products to neighboring countries when we reach our production peak and the French market cannot absorb everything. And these countries are also happy to extend their season with our products. By working together, everyone wins.”

For more information:
Didier Ioli
Paris Select
Phone: +33 141 73 13 13
Mobile: +33 6 03 69 11 20 

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