“Strawberry season looks better than asparagus season” by FreshPlaza

Olivier Thomas, La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles

“Strawberry season looks better than asparagus season”

“Technically, the asparagus season is not over yet,” explains Olivier Thomas of La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles, but the campaign will end earlier than expected. “We still have 3 weeks of production, because consumers are not really receptive anymore.” Over the years, the asparagus season has been shrinking in northern France.
Appoline and Olivier.

Lower asparagus consumption in the second half of the season
The production from the south of France arrives earlier, in order to meet the French demand for asparagus early in the season. “The problem is that the asparagus from the north then arrive too late. People are less inclined to eat asparagus when summer approaches. Additionally, asparagus are a premium product that is not cheap, and in the current inflationary context, not all households are ready to consume asparagus, especially this year. Younger generations are also less inclined to consume asparagus, even if it is a product they appreciate.”

Françoise supplies the direct sales store on the farm.

Steady strawberry sales despite timid consumption
This is not the case for strawberries, which, although considered a “high-end” product, are consumed differently. “Strawberries have always been a pleasure purchase, to treat yourself to an easy and healthy snack. We started the season at the beginning of April with Gariguette strawberries. Production was spread out and the start of the season was very complicated, with a particularly bad month in April. People were not receptive to this kind of product due to the rainy weather. Today, consumption is low but present, and we feel that people want to eat good local strawberries, which is a good opportunity for us. There are fewer strawberries on the market. The production from southwestern France is coming to an end, the Belgian products are present but not excessively, the situation is complicated on the German market which leads to fewer imports, and Spanish strawberries are virtually non-existent. So we are doing quite well, even if we still have to work hard to reduce our production costs, which continue to rise while floor prices remain the same.”

Catherine sells the farm’s produce at open-air markets.

La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles, a model based on direct sales
La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles is a family business. “Françoise and her brother are in charge of production. Françoise prepares and supplies the farm store, and Olivier’s wife sells on the markets. For 3 years now, their daughter Appoline has joined the family business as well.” Based on a direct sales model, La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles retails 90% of its production, at the farm store where most of the produce is sold, open-air markets and an online sales service and vending machine. This choice was already made early on by Olivier and Françoise’s parents.

For more information:
Olivier Thomas et Françoise Thomas
La Ferme du Pont d’Achelles
Phone: 03 20 48 60 43


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