In Indre-et-Loire, the strawberry market “doesn’t yield as much as it used to”

Anaïs strawberries, known for their incomparable taste qualities, are the delight of the greatest Parisian chefs. Without forgetting Gariguette, Ciflorette, Mara des bois or Charlotte, aimed at the general public in about twenty markets on the axis between Tours and Angers and in mass distribution.

In high season, SAS Pulice in Chouzé-sur-Loire harvests seven to ten tons of strawberries a day. They are hand-picked every morning by around thirty permanent workers and 180 foreign seasonal workers.

“Between the cost of plants, inputs, plastics, we have a small profit”

“Harvest started in the first week of April and will continue until the beginning of November with a very strong period in May and June”explains Antonín Pulice, joined with his father to develop this operation in the hands of the family since 2000.

Despite a rainy winter followed by a stingy spring, the strawberries under 22 hectares of unheated greenhouses bore fruit. “The opening season is average, there is little light in January and February, but the sunshine at the end of March allowed us to make up for it. The more sun, the better they will be. »

Very fragile, the strawberry is placed in a tray immediately after picking. Ideally, it is shipped the same evening.
© (NR photo by Rachel Herman)

Very fragile strawberries are placed directly into the trays immediately after picking. Work continues in the factory as the company controls the entire packaging chain as well as shipping, which often takes place the same evening.

Cost increase

If there is a strawberry “main business” Antonín Pulica, no longer represents the majority of its turnover, namely four million euros in 2023. Radishes, lamb salad, raspberries or asparagus play a big role in an industry that has suffered from an exponential increase in costs since the Covid crisis.

“In terms of results, strawberries don’t produce as much as they used to. It is very dependent on supply and demand and requires a lot of work and maintenance to grow. Between the cost of plants, inputs, plastics, we have very little profit. We are glad to have developed part of the market gardening because until 2020 we only had strawberries. »

In four years, their selling price has increased by 10 to 15%. An increase that is still insufficient “because the cost has doubled”, the character of Antonín Pulica. Production is not expected to stop among the variants, but “trial years” take place in certain varieties out of a dozen grown. “Some, like Ciflorette, are increasingly difficult to promote. »

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