“Quel gâchis!” (What a waste!)
Basil Howitt’s otherwise idyllic summer was marred only by the relentless dumping of fruit and vegetables at local supermarket entrances and elsewhere.
For me, our truly glorious high summer up here in the Agly valley has been marred by only one series of events: the senseless dumpings, in total, of 200 or more tonnes of vegetables and fruits. Tipper lorries have been doggedly ejecting their loads of peaches, nectarines and tomatoes, not only at local supermarket entrances, but also at motorway access points and at the frontier péage at Le Boulou.
Four tipper lorries, nearly a hundred farmers, dumpings at each car park entrance, the police discretely looking on, a palpable tension between those carrying out the dumpings and those who, against their wishes, were the intended recipients. Such was the scenario, identical to the previous ones, of this new demonstration targeting on this occasion Leclerc Sud on the Avenue Dalbiez at Perpignan.
The culprits are the deeply disgruntled local fruit and vegetable farmers affiliated to the FDSEA (Fédération Départementale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles – or the Département’s Federation of Farmers’ Unions).
3 The gripe 3
Their main gripe is that they can no longer make a living out of growing summer fruit and vegetables because the Spanish growers over the border, as well as Belgian tomato growers, can sell their produce more cheaply to the French supermarkets, who thereby enhance their margins. Most will pay producers no more than c.1.10 euros a kilo for peaches and nectarines. French producers, however, claim their costs work out at 1.35 euros per kilo. Hence they are losing 25 cents a kilo.
3 Ludicrous Lottery 3
The most ridiculous aspect of the FDSEA’s campaign is that it has been indiscriminate. Since the supermarkets targeted by the FDSEA have been selected purely by lottery, some that have actually sold only local produce – Carrefour and Leclerc Sud among them – have been punished along with the rest. The Director of Perpignan’s Carrefour, William Ramos, employs over 400 people. When his branch was blocked by piles of dumped produce on the morning of 22nd August, it lost 250,000 euros worth of business. He was understandably “very disappointed”.
3 Shopi 3
Our own excellent local supermarket in Estagel, Shopi, is run by a charming and friendly Spaniard and his French wife who create all the homeliness of a corner shop. They have been selling Spanish peaches and nectarines. When Shopi was blocked at 6.00am one morning in August any twinges of sympathy we may have had for the fruit farmers evaporated.
3 Cheap fags and booze? 3
It is surely a safe bet that some of these dumpers are among those who join the queues to La Junquera and elsewhere just over the border to buy their cheap pastis, brandy, cigarettes and petrol. In search of the best prices, they will not be too worried by the plights of French buralistes (tobacconists) and garagistes who suffer constantly from the cheaper products available in Spain.
3 Blogs 3
Let two articulate bloggers make the final points:
[(30/08/2009 à 11h03 | Delamer
[(30/08/2009 à 08h37 | ammosyse
3 “Otherwise idyllic” 3
I said at the beginning that our summer has been glorious. Next time I will try to convince you that it actually was!
3 References and follow up 3
© 2009 Basil Howitt
Basil Howitt has also written
[(You can contact Basil by email: [firstname.lastname@example.org->email@example.com])]