Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The fruit and vegetable sector is ready to share resources

Written by Nathalie Bureau du colombier on Thursday, April 18th 2013 à 10:22 | Read 1225 times

Challenged by the demand for frequent deliveries in large-scale distribution, companies in the food-processing industry are beginning to collaborate with a view to pooling transport and logistics operations. Producers in the fruit and vegetable sector are also thinking about moving in this direction, even if there are still numerous obstacles to be overcome…

(Photo MIN Rungis)
(Photo MIN Rungis)

In October 2011, Jean-Jacques Henaff launched Chargeurs Pointe de Bretagne, an Economic Interest Group that combines the delivery operations of five companies in Finistère. This was a revolutionary approach. "Supermarkets have reduced quantities but increased the frequency of deliveries. This shift has had an impact on transport costs. The solution is to optimize the filling of trucks in order to reach a critical mass," explains Jean-Jacques Henaff, president of Henaff.

Although it has not reached the same level of maturity, the fruit and vegetable sector does have a few examples of the successful sharing of resources.

Some producers, like Edenys, have chosen to combine their sales teams. This SAS (simplified joint stock company) specialising in the marketing of apples joined forces in 2010 with Covial (a SCA - limited liability partnership), Les Saladelles (a SARL - limited liability company), and Les Vergers de Mauguio (a SICA - Agricultural Cooperative). The idea was to improve efficiency: "We present one sales team to the distributors. We pool our offer and produce a single invoice with fewer intermediaries. Supermarkets are gradually reducing their numbers of suppliers and prefer to use pooled structures offering multiple varieties," explains Leslie Galtier, director of Edenys.


Prices and better control of transport contracts

Christian Metadier, vice-president of the Canavese group (Photo NBC)

There is nothing to be gained from having trucks drive along one behind the other. The shared resources approach has been adopted by some fruit and vegetable wholesalers who add other trades, such as the distribution of seafood products

explains Christian Metadier, vice-president of the Canavese group and a member of Creno which brings together around twenty fruit and vegetable wholesalers.

Reduced costs, reduced CO2 emissions, there are numerous benefits. A wholesaler, Canavese also grows bananas in the Côte d'Ivoire. They team up with other producers on site to purchase shipping services. "Logistics remains one of the highest costs," he emphasizes.

Stronger together, they negotiate freight prices directly with the shipping companies and the terms of the charter party, a vital factor in the transport of perishable goods (respect of temperatures, damage in transit, delivery schedules).


Electronic Data Interchange is essential, but is not happening

(photo NBC)
(photo NBC)
With chartering costs for refrigerated ships of between 15,000 to 20,000 dollars per day, African producers understood the value of sharing of resources very early on. In the 1990s, the OCAB, which brought together around twenty producers, chartered reefer ships. Agrexco did the same in Israel, operating its own fleet.

Political conflict in the Côte d'Ivoire and economic difficulties in Israel put an end to this large-scale sharing of resources, although at the same time refrigerated containers became much more widely used, offering greater flexibility to producers.

However, this individual approach to the transport of fruit and vegetables has some disadvantages. "Quality controls are not systematically carried out on the containers. Pooling enables a more structured delivery of products to the market," emphasizes Gerard Antoine, a fruit and vegetable logistics consultant.

Ultimately, small producers still have problems working together. In Tunisia, the producer Bio Andalous deplores the lack of collaboration. "It is every one for themselves here ". 

This is why the APIA* is trying to bring them together "We are trying to organize exports from small producers so that they can be competitive," affirms Rachid Bel Anes, the APIA's director . 

In France, there is still a long way to go in the creation of new logistics models.
Josselin Saint-Raymond, a coordinator for the ANPP.
(photo DR)


Our industry does not have many logisticians but an ecotax could change things. Producers must work together to construct the future

emphasizes Josselin Saint-Raymond, a coordinator for the ANPP* network - Logistics Work Group. These issues will be resolved by the sharing of resources.

But what kind of collaboration can be envisaged without the sharing of information systems? Here again, the sector seems to be lacking direction. "Electronic Data Interchange is essential. But it is not happening. Bar codes remain unused. Orders are sent by fax and by telephone", laments Josselin Saint-Raymond.    

*National Apple & Pear Association
*Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Investment.

Special issue : The fruit and vegetable sector is ready to share resources

Special issue in partnership with Medfel

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