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Gelagri campaigns hard for recognition in French market dominated by Bonduelle.

Gelagri Campaigns Hard for Recognition In French Market Dominated by Bonduelle

French frozen vegetable specialist Gelagri has pulled out all the stops in a campaign to increase movement of its Paysan Breton line at retail chains. Accounting for just 2.5% of sales to households in 1990, it hopes to raise the figure to 10% by the end of this year.

Gelagri, which is 74% owned by farmers' cooperative Coopagri Bretagne, produces 60% of private label vegetables sold in the nation's supermarkets. This segment accounts for 35% of all frozen vegetable sales. Thus, between Paysan Breton and private label, Gelagri already controls 35% of the volume in chains. But the success with private label has, until recent months, been at the expense of its own brand.

To remedy this situation, the company unveiled a completely revamped Paysan Breton line at the SIAL show in Paris last October. Gone is the logo representing a Breton peasant. Now the symbol is a solid red rectangle bearing in white the words Paysan Breton. Some 52 items are offered, of which 20 percent are new recipes, including an Italian salad with pasta, a "tonic" salad with seaweed, and salads from the Levant.

Gelagri is making its vegetables available in three types of packaging: traditional 1-kilogram sacks, 300-gram and 450-gram cartons, and special 750-gram packs. No recipe is presented in all three forms; but many are sold in two.

The 750-gram packs are truly innovative. They are eight-sided boxes, longer than they are wide, each of which contains three 250-gram transparent pouches of food. The product is pictured on the box; and a window in the front of the container allows the actual contents to be seen. The boxes can be easily opened at one end, and carry details of the nutritional and energy values.

Whatever the weight and form of the package each is color coded. The color green and the title "Carre de Verdure" (Square of Verdure) indicate a single-vegetable product. Understandably this is Gelagri's largest category, with 26 items, ranging from broccoli flowers to artichoke hearts to cut salsify. Orange and the Square of Colors represent mixed vegetables, including Breton Salad and Cooked Stew. Yellow and the Square of Flavors indicates purees -- six, from broccoli to green beans. At present, mauve and the Square of Fantasy symbolize five offerings, all presented only in the 750-gram special packs. Each in this series contains three different items -- three Levant salads, for instance.

In France frozen vegetable offerings have grown rapidly and now consist of such a bewildering variety of items that Gelagri's organization of its products through color coding is welcome to consumers and to store.

Gelagri's chief competitor Bonduelle, far ahead in sales of its name brand, is not standing still. In recent months it has made several additions to its repertory, in addition to continuing to develop commercial ties with other firms. (Recently it formed with the French Coop de Pau, the company Sud-Quest Legumes to commercialize sweet corn, broccoli, and green beans, for example.)

At SIAL it introduced a line of five vegetables cooked in cream: whole spinach, chopped spinach, slivers of leak, slivers of cabbage, and finely cut sorrel. They are sold in 450-gram boxes, containing fifteen 30-gram tablets or three 150-gram slabs. For an average serving, 150 grams of product are cooked. A 150-gram serving would contain only 90-115 calories, depending on the vegetables, as the cream used is light. Heating the still-frozen vegetables in a saucepan takes about 10 minutes; in a microwave, about 8-10 minutes. The vegetables can be eaten as they are or as an ingredient in a more complex product. The creamed leeks, for example, can become part of a tart, "Flamiche aux poireaux."

As what it calls its "new generation," Bonduelle has brought out a line of "minute" vegetables. Four are substitutions for previous items, and three are new: kernels of corn, cut salsify, and vegetable macedoine. Each can be heated in a microwave oven for seven minutes or less. The corn takes only two minutes.

In Spain Bonduelle is offering an Andalusian gaspacho, a quite spicy, vegetable soup, served chilled. It is sold in packages of frozen tablets.

At present the chains usually display Bonduelle frozen vegetables alongside store brand items. Gelagri does not expect to drive Bonduelle from the market, far from it, according to Yves Thaeron, general director. The hope is to place its Paysan Breton vegetables next to the Bonduelle and private label packages, he told La Surgelation. Thus, if it succeeds, consumers will have an expanded choice.

Gelagri currently produces some 50,000 tons of frozen vegetables a year in two factories at Loudeac and Landerneau. Loudeac, the larger, does all the packaging. Investment of some 20,000 francs annually in the plants has modernized them and expanded Loudeac. The new Paysan Breton line will be packaged to a facility built in Loudec last year. The vegetable processing line is almost completely automated.

Cold storage giant CEGF, which has a 17% stake in Gelagri, freezes and stores the products. The 1,500 members of the Coopagri Bretagne, which owns almost two thirds of the company, farm some 8,000 hectares of land -- mostly in Brittany.

In 1990 Gelagri's turnover was 350 million francs, far below the 3.1 billion earned by the international Bonduelle Group. But the sales figures for Gelagri should grow if its aggressive own label campaign succeeds.

PHOTO : Now, thanks to innovative packaging from Gelagri Bretagne, consumers can choose from three different vegetable mixes in a single box.

PHOTO : New from Bonduelle are vegetables cooked in cream. The five-item range offers whole spinach, chopped spinach, cabbage and sorrel.
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Title Annotation:Annual QFFI Survey
Author:Hazemann, Julie; Davis, Mary
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Previous Article:Organic fruits and vegetable products: now they're coming out in frozen form.
Next Article:New wave changing the old order in British frozen food marketplace.

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