The ready-to-use fresh fruit and vegetable sector is threatened with extinction

At a time when climate change is having an increasing impact on crops with historic drought and skyrocketing production costs are accentuating, the SVFPE (Union of manufacturers of ready-to-use fresh vegetable products) warns of the risk of the disappearance of the French sector of ready-to-use fresh fruit and vegetables, its horticulture and its know-how, in the absence of being able to adequately remunerate French gardeners and processors. In one year, 10% of the gardeners have already disappeared, and given the current additional costs, some are already giving up planting lettuce or vegetables this year to switch to other types of production.

SVFPE therefore appeals to the responsibility of distributors to work on a revaluation plan that allows gardeners to recover “insurance” through the price of their production in the face of increasingly frequent climatic hazards and cost increases, some of which look structural.

The professionals also call on the public authorities to implement measures as soon as possible to secure the sector as part of the agricultural and food plan. Upstream and downstream of the sector need concrete measures and support in the form of crop protection, research, innovation and investments that promote the sector’s competitiveness, which must maintain its contribution to food sovereignty.

An unprecedented context of extreme weather phenomena
and dramatic cost increases
The accumulation of unpredictable weather phenomena, of which the summer’s intense droughts are a striking illustration, comes on top of the general increase in costs that the sector has to face both at the industrial and agricultural levels. The energy crisis and the explosion in electricity costs are part of the inflationary trend that affects other cost items (fertilizers, agricultural raw materials, labor, packaging, transportation, etc.)
for many months.

Electricity prices increased by +40% during the first 8 months of the year (source ADEPALE Sept. 2022), and prices from the beginning of 2023 should increase by +200% to +700% depending on the level of coverage and the contract of farms and companies. Drought and irrigation restrictions have resulted in water stress on crops
with direct consequences for the quality and quantity of salads and vegetables for processors with breakage rates across the entire supply chain of 20% to 50% in August and part of September depending on the product type and production basins and with lasting consequences for yields in the next two -three months.

Do not become dependent on imports of our vegetables:
-10% of gardeners in 1 year
Faced with the urgency of this unprecedented context, only the solidarity of distribution and catering professionals will enable processing companies to secure sufficient remuneration for French gardeners to maintain their activities in the area, ensure the sustainability of the sector and at the same time continue the agroecological transition. While the number of gardeners has already fallen by 10% and the area cultivated for the sector is reduced by 4.5% between 2019 and 2020, the phenomenon
could accelerate further this year with the abandonment of activities and migration to other cultures.

A significant upgrade for the sustainability of the sector
The sector is directly threatened. This is a real aberration at a time when everyone agrees on the importance of increasing the consumption of plant products in the daily diet and preserving France’s food sovereignty.
The challenge today is to support an exemplary contractual sector which contributes to economic activity in the territories, to the maintenance of landscapes and biodiversity and to the food balance of the French people. The 2023 negotiations, which begin with distribution and catering partners, will be crucial.

Products popular with consumers
and which contributes to the balanced diet of the French
The French sector prepares and packs an average of 110,000 tonnes of salads and other vegetables every year, which are used in out-of-home catering and in stores1 to meet consumer expectations. In fifteen years is
consumption by the French at home increased by 20%. In 2021, they bought around 285 million letters in stores.

Already cut, sorted, washed and drained, ready-to-use fruits and vegetables are consumed throughout the year and contribute to the nutritional balance of the French by easily increasing the proportion of fruit and vegetables in their diet, who agree that almost 8 out out of 10 buyers agree (79%).

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