With 81,000 tonnes of tomatoes grown each year, the Savéol cooperative is the largest tomato producer in France. Tomatoes account for 90% of the cooperative’s activity, which also produces 2,200 tonnes of strawberries (9% of the activity) and supplements its range with cucumbers, peppers and samphire. Its production increased by 8% in 2018 and for the first time, the cooperative crossed the€200M mark in turnover, for 2500 further jobs. The cooperative has increased the varieties to keep as much as possible in the fruit and vegetable aisles and to meet the demand of consumers to buy varied, tasty, responsible and local products. To establish their status as a national leader and invent tomorrow’s sustainable agriculture, the 120 producers in the cooperative combine links to the local community, reduced environmental impact and quality production.
Investment in Guipavas
To deal with its growth, Savéol is investing €14M to expand its packaging station in Guipavas, near Brest. In 2020, its surface area will increase from 25,000 to 40,000 square meters covered and will be equipped with robotic systems to accelerate the palletisation of the various boxes. The Guipavas site will be dedicated to receiving tomatoes from all the cooperative members. A first building will be used for the reception and storage of boxes and the second for the manufacture of packaging. At the same time, the Plougastel-Daoulas site will specialise in the strawberry sector.
Tomatoes “grown without pesticides”
In 2018, Savéol teamed up with Prince de Bretagne and Solarenn to create the “Grown without pesticides” label dedicated to glasshouse-grown tomatoes with no synthetic pesticide treatments, from flower to plate. They have drawn up common specifications and all producers are inspected by the certifying body Certis. These three Bretagne cooperatives are heavyweights in national tomato production, as they supply 200,000 tonnes of tomatoes out of the 600,000 tonnes produced each year in France.
Today, this range represents almost 10% of the volumes at Savéol. The goal is 30-40% within two years. This production method, which is halfway between organic and conventional cultivation – the organic label is reserved for crops in the open ground – accounts for 15% of the domestic tomato market. Salvéol holds 32% of this three-way market in France. This range is therefore a major development lever at Savéol. After tomatoes, strawberries should be partly grown in a more natural way.
While Savéol’s market gardeners have been using insects to avoid the use of pesticides for almost forty years, the cooperative is pleased to be able to promote its “green knowledge”. Its 120 members are now involved in this approach.
Savéol Nature Farm
As early as 1982, the Savéol market gardeners were already using insects to control pests and reduce the use of chemicals. They had insects delivered from the Channel Islands for many years. Given its expanding production, in 2013 Savéol decided to breed its own insects and thus invested €2.3M in an insect farm. And still today, the Bretagne market gardening cooperative is the only one in Europe to have such a facility of its own. Every year, this farm breeds millions of parasitic wasps (Encarsia and Eretmocerus) and bugs (Macrolophus) to combat the pests (whitefly, aphids, mites, caterpillars, etc.) that destroy the tomato seedlings. Savéol can meet all the needs of its market gardeners. They deposit Encarsia eggs in their glasshouses. The insect prevents the development of whitefly and dies when it can no longer find eggs to parasitise. Normally, the market gardeners combine Encarsia and Macrolophus to be effective.
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