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“Relief in the oyster beds”

“Close as an oyster”. The term takes on its full meaning when you want to know more about the bivalve prized by gourmets. Oyster farmers who have to deal with the whims of the diva on the seafood plates often sail by sight. And learn to navigate the pitfalls. This summer, oysters thus found themselves becalmed, weighed down by a surge of growth undercurrent.

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“The summer drought has had an impact on the development. If there is no supply of mineral salts, there is less phytoplankton, and therefore less food for the oysters”. explains the chairman of the National Shellfish Farming Committee, Philippe Le Gal, himself based in Morbihan. It quantifies the loss at 10% or 15% of volumes out of annual national production estimated at between 100,000 and 120,000 tonnes.

A reflux finally limited by a sudden change of foot on the bivalve. “At the beginning of December, when the professionals raised their parks, they were surprised to see a catch-up in sizes, says Philippe Le Gal. It took place in the autumn. These are the riddles of nature. » Enough to make oyster farmers a drag…

inflation wave

Relief therefore on the oyster beds. All calibers are ready to hit the Christmas tables. Even if the French still favor number 3 and are picky about the bigger and meatier oysters. It remains to be seen whether they will have sea urchins in their wallets. Major retailers appear to be afraid to take a stock from the tide department at this period of tension over the spending power of the French.

“Distributor pre-orders are down 15% to 20%”, says Laurent Chiron, chairman of the quality group Marennes-Oléron oysters. Philippe Le Gal even mentions a drop of 20% to 30%, without being able to explain the phenomenon. Mystery and bubblegum pearl. Unsurprisingly, oysters have not escaped the wave of inflation sweeping over food shelves. With an average of 7% nationwide and 15% for Marennes-Oléron.

“A kilo of fines de claire is sold at the time of shipment for 5.75 euros compared to 5 euros in 2021”, says Laurent Chiron. It boasts the quality of the production under the Marennes-Oléron brand, that is 19,000 tons, the only one today that benefits from a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). But it will soon share this advantage with the Normandy oyster, which is also set to achieve its IGP.

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