French farmers: In control of whole production chain

06-09-2010 | |
Harrij Schmeitz Agri & Food chains

The summer holidays are over and I have left the great region Gers en Gasconge in France – a region that plays an important role in French agricultural production of cattle, corn, sunflowers but especially Foie Gras.

First I did some practical research at E.LeClerc Supermarkets how chains are developing in fresh produce of fruit and vegetables. What I saw there was that more and more products are individually labelled and sold as such. Not only the Chiquita bananas but almost all fruits and vegetables are labelled by the farmer, or his or her association. In the supermarket, the products of different growers/labels are mixed for display. For example, one of apples consists of apples of six different suppliers. I tried to make some pictures of it, but at the time of shooting, the shop employees urged me to leave the shop. Clear to me was that growers manage to get their own market/chain all the way to the Point-of-sale: the supermarket.

I also visited the farm of our neighbours, the Family Peres in St. Michel. Their family owned farm: Ferme de la Patte d’Oie is produces Foie Gras with ducks on 60 hectares of land. The owners have a complete closed supply chain with their own consumer label. Besides breeding ducks for Foie Gras they also produce corn, sunflowers etc. They have a small feed production-unit for making there animal feed. Soy is bought from somewere else. The farm is equipped with their own slaughterhouse. After slaughter, further processing is done at the on-site “food kitchen”. The products are then being sold at there own shops at the farm and in the city and at gastronimique fairs. Another example of a complete personal chain from stable to table.

But are these type of supply chains sustainable and the way forward? Looking at the current markets of predicted shortage of wheat, corn, potatoes, onions, etc. and the fact that we need to feed two billion new people on our globe in the next few decades the question is “are farmers personals chains the future?”.

I don’t know. Maybe in the struggle for the margins they are. But in the need to feed the world they are not. What is your opinion about this?

More about