“We have been cultivating and harvesting all kinds of berries, which are all of the highest quality. This is what customers expect from us, and we have been able to deliver quality fruits for the past 20 years,” points out CEO Jean-Marie Audigane. “But we do not simply deliver the requested quantities of berries to our wholesale customers, but we instead offer an individual selection of various fruits all on one tray. This is one of our specialities, as customers enjoy various fruits in one go. The tray solution is popular with the customer who can take home a broad selection of healthy berries.”
Only lately, more and more consumers have become aware of the many health benefits of eating berries, which are delicious and also highly convenient fruits that fit in well with today’s busy lifestyle. “You do not need a long preparation time. Just eat them,” says Mr. Audigane. “We ensure that with our various cultivation methods, we can supply fruits throughout most of the year.”
For more than 20 years, the family business has been growing berries, with raspberries accounting for three quarters of the entire production. Over the years, greenhouses have been set up for part of the production in order to extend the picking season.
Panach’Fruits started with raspberries and now also offers black and red currants, blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries as well as special fruits such as hardy kiwifruit, which bears a strong resemblance to a kiwi but has a smooth skin and is much smaller.
“We are famous for our mixed fruit trays, which include a selection of fruits,” says Mr. Audigane. “Our company’s name has a close connection with our fruit selection tray, as in French a panache is a mixed drink, and I think here the ascription is obvious.”
Today, Panach’Fruits operates six greenhouses, four of which are made of glass and two have a plastic structure. “In particular, the glass houses allow for an early and late harvest, thus extending the normal picking period. In our glass houses, which cover an area of 5 ha, we can pick fruits twice a year,” explains Mr. Audigane.
The fruits are sold exclusively under the Panach’Fruits brand, supplied in small trays, with several paper baskets packed on one tray. “The focus is on raspberry cultivation, and we have opted for the Canadian variety Tulameen, which combines outstanding fruit quality and excellent yield. The picking period starts in March and ends by mid December. The raspberries keep their shape even after picking and boast excellent keeping qualities, which is important in food retailing,” says Mr. Audigane.
Apart from the well-known red raspberries, Panach’Fruits offers some special varieties, including a golden and black raspberries. Both are quite rare and are not a common sight in the European market or in the supermarket.
“They derive from wild raspberries, which have been prepared for cultivation. Due to our greenhouse cultivation, raspberries are available for quite a long period of time, and we are able to supply fruits from March through December, making the best of our different greenhouse options,” stresses Mr. Audigane.
While the majority of the production finds its way to French wholesalers, Panach’Fruits sells about 10% of its production to customers in Germany and Belgium. “We have established ourselves as a top supplier of high-quality fruits. Quality is the decisive factor, and we do not make any compromises in this respect. Naturally, during the main picking season, there are a number of growers with poor-quality berries, including a lot of imported quantities, but they cannot compete with us,” says Mr. Audigane.
For the coming years, Panach’Fruits is determined to keep up its high-quality approach, focusing on its existing range and some new introductions, like the La Baie de Mai, the honeyberry. The grower will continue its berry success, falling back on an additional workforce of 100 seasonal workers that help to pick the berries before they are delivered directly to the wholesale market.