Waiting game for oyster farmers in France

Loading one year old oysters into sacks at the L’Eguille-sur-Seudre oyster farm

Christmas and New Year are France’s big oyster eating periods. Brian McCulloch visits a farm to check progress on this year’s batch

Oyster farmers should know by the end of October how their shellfish are doing during their autumn growth period and be able to give indications of quantity and quality for the key Christmas and New Year market.

Signs are promising this year after a good spring, but nothing is certain until the second autumn growth is complete. With consumption in France peaking over the Christmas and New Year festivities, it is vital that production peaks in time.

Oysters are marketed in five grades, with the biggest being number one, and the smallest number five.

“By far the biggest market is for number three sized oysters, and we try to get as many of those for the December season as possible,” Laurent Chiron, the president of the Groupement Qualité Huîtres Marennes-Oléron, who has his own business at L’Eguille-sur-Seudre, not far from Royan, told The Connexion.

“So far we have had a good growth period in the spring, where the rain and the temperature helped to produce lots of plankton, but we will only really know where we stand at the end of October.”

Owner Laurent Chiron showing the Marennes-Oléron IGP area

Marennes-Oléron is the largest of France’s seven producing areas, of Normandy, North Brittany, ...

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