French vegetable co-operative the Société d'Intérêt Collectif Agricole (SICA) de Saint-Pol-de- Léon is investing tens of millions of euros in the rationalisation of its processing operations to put itself on a more competitive footing with German and Dutch rivals.

The co-op, which is made up of 1,500 producers, markets around 285,000 tonnes of vegetables – including potatoes, cabbages leeks and lettuces – a year, of which 40% is accounted by exports.

The project consists of reducing the number of vegetable processing stations from 23 to eight and building two new packaging facilities on the same site, which are scheduled to be operational in 2017.

Last year, the SICA de Saint-Pol-de-Léon saw its turnover decline by 15% to just under EUR185m (US$200.3m) due to unfavourable weather conditions and the Russian embargo on food imports. 

Separately, the co-operative, which owns a rail freight subsidiary named Combiwest, is mulling plans to operate trains to China carrying échalotes.

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By GlobalData