Sleeve. What if the Rungis market relaunched the Mont-Saint-Michel pre-salted lamb AOP?

By

Jean-Philippe Massieu

Published on

June 16, 2024 at 11:56 a.m.

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In spring 2010, lambs were the first to be marketed under the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) “Prés-Salés du Mont-Saint-Michel”, having subsequently obtained the European level that is the AOP ( Protected designation of origin). Francis Adam is one of the handful of breeders who fought for this: “It took us 18 years to get it! » “We have it… but there aren’t enough of us. It would take twice as much,” estimates the 74-year-old breeder.

Only nine breeders left in the AOP

In fact, only nine breeders are involved in this AOP “Prés-Salés du Mont-Saint-Michel”: “There are five in Manche and four in Ille-et-Vilaine. At the start, there were sixteen producers. » The one whose parents already raised salt meadow lambs, in La Vendelée, in Bricqueville-sur-Mer, “there are around 8,000 sheep in the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. We represent 3,900 ewes and we have had up to 7,000.” Some of these breeders are retired, others have stopped the activity. Others sell their production under the name of salt meadow lamb but without complying with the AOP specifications. “If we sell at €13 per kg, they go for €12. But we pay the certifying body and we respect the specifications. All mothers must be born on the farm. We are not allowed to purchase females. Ewes and their lambs must spend “at least 90 days on the grass” and lambs “cannot be slaughtered before 135 days. » “We must declare the entries and exits of the grass,” adds Francis Adam, who has been selling his production for 35 years at the Lombardie butchery in Agon-Coutainville.

Mutton consumption is falling drastically in France because new generations have not been used to eating it.

Stéphanie MaubéRegional advisor and breeder

However, in fact, “we must not be fooled, the bulk of the volume is non-PDO pre-salted lamb. It’s forty breeders against nine,” laments Clémentine Baloche, director of the EDE (Livestock Establishment) Normandy for the Normandy Chambers of Agriculture.

Unlike standard lamb, due to its specifications, “Prés-Salés du Mont-Saint-Michel” AOP lamb cannot be marketed from Easter but “from the end of May-beginning of June to the end of December”. This is why the Normandy Chamber of Agriculture and the Normandy Region began working with Rungis wholesalers at the end of last year for the Christmas holidays. “We built the price with them, in a very transparent way. It was appreciated by breeders. And the price has not been discussed again since. We are in a niche market of 15 to 20 lambs per week,” agrees Clémentine Baloche. But it must be strengthened. “We also have the Grosdoit establishments which help us market in Normandy. »

Hervé Morin (president of the Normandy Region) and Roland Salle (president of the AOP Prés-salés du Mont-Saint-Michel), surrounded by Stéphanie Maubé (regional advisor and sheep breeder), Nadège Mahé (agriculturist and vice -president of the Manche Chamber of Agriculture) and Francis Adam, builder of the AOP. ©Jean-Philippe MASSIEU

“We are delighted to discover the animals and the landscapes. That puts us in the frame,” begins Gino Catena, wholesaler in Rungis and president of the game poultry union who was surrounded by a small delegation according to whom “there is potential”, certainly, but also constraints. Starting with the need not to deliver whole carcasses to Rungis but “piece by piece”, “in kits”. From then on, the Region invited Gilbert Michel, president of the Cotentin Bay slaughterhouse (Carentan-les-Marais) to the meeting. For this market (and not only for this one in order to redress the situation), this slaughterhouse will have to offer a cutting offer (also called an ankle) in addition to slaughtering. “It can be organized,” believes Gilbert Michel. Another recommendation from Rungis stakeholders is to think about halal, a rapidly developing market. This is 80% of the 27,000 tonnes marketed each year by Gino Catena! Except that ritual slaughter (bleeding the animal) is not part of French customs. However, adjustments to the process would be possible. Hervé Morin asked Gilbert Michel to check this.

The importance of communication

A remunerative sale price from the farms is one of the fundamentals for maintaining breeding. Obviously. “If we manage to get a price, we will have more producers,” says Roland Salle, president of the AOP.

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In any case, for AOP lamb to differentiate itself from its non-PDO cousin (it’s the same fight in Camembert for example), “there is a “comm” campaign to be carried out. It’s up to you to give us arguments. If you have ambassadors who can be made to speak, that’s what works best in communication,” says Dominique Martin, general secretary of the Volaille Gibier union at the Rungis national interest market.

Hervé Morin and Gino Caténa, at Pointe d’Agon. ©Normandy Region

In addition to breeders such as Roland Salle, Francis Adam and Catherine Besselièvre who are entirely capable of communicating with authenticity about their profession, “many Parisian chefs are Norman,” assures Hervé Morin. “Communication is the tip of the spear. There is a lot of work to be done,” Gino Catena had already insisted in the preamble. One of his colleagues advises AOP breeders to ensure that they “marginalize” breeders who market under the name of salt meadow lambs even though they are not involved in the AOP.

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