French apple exporters to the UK show no sign of neglecting the UK market in the wake of the surprise Brexit vote, and point to the high quality standards required by their UK customers.
“The UK is very important for us, not least due to its positioning as a high-quality market with strict requirements in terms of environmentally responsible production, which our producers have been committed to for several years,” said Didier Crabos, director of cooperative Cofruid’Oc Méditerranée. “We have well established relationships throughout the sector.”
According to Crabos, the cooperative is currently working on developing its varietal range. “Our main two products are Pink Lady and Granny Smith,” he noted. “With the Tasty Granny brand, we gave ourselves the task of offering only the best of Granny, thanks to our especially well adapted terroir and the know-how of our producers, who harvest the fruit at the optimum stage of maturity to maximise the flavour. The results of the 2015/16 campaign are very encouraging, with positive responses from UK consumers exposed to the product and the brand.”
He also stated his conviction that Brexit would not alter UK consumers’ desire for healthy fruits that offer real pleasure. “We are therefore very confident in the continued success of Pink Lady, which has made remarkable progress in terms of winning over consumers,” he said.
For French exporter Groupe Pomanjou, Brexit poses a similarly minimal threat, according to CEO Marc Rauffet. “Our UK customers have never chosen to favour Europe, nor one country in particular,” he said. “The choice is pragmatic. When a good product is not in competition with the same product bearing a UK flat, we aways receive a lot of attention, since this is a market that is always very demanding.”
Currently, according to Rauffet, the company’s growers are picking a very high-quality crop. “We are strong in classic varieties like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Braeburn and Gala,” he said. “But our focus is on special varieties such as Honey Crunch, Pink Lady, organic variety Juliet, Joya and Choupette.”
This last variety is a new one for Pomanjou, arriving with the recent acquisition of Les Vergers Launay, a grower, packer and shipper based in Saint-Paterne-Racan in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France. The Choupette is a rustic bicolour variety with a natural resistance to scab and an excellent shelf-life.
“We have made great efforts for many years to improve our production methods, beyond standards like GlobalGAP and Nurture,” said Rauffet. “We go further, approaching organic farming methods. The future will require the control of our environment and the use of varieties that guarantee good quality right up to the consumer.”
According to Rauffet, it is indispensable to respond to the expectations of citizens who want full transparency and who are also ecologically conscious, eat healthy and live sustainably.
“UK citizens are perhaps more isolated since Brexit, but they have never been better connected to the continent thanks to the internet,” said Rauffet. “So it’s up to us to stay in contact to explain our approach and our story.”