French sardine canner encourages sustainability


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
July 4, 2011

Alerting consumers to local sustainability issues French canned sardine brand 'Les Mouettes d'Arvor' communicates a direct message onto thousands of sardine cans.

Gonidec, the family-owned Brittany firm behind the brand, has embraced a regional Brittany campaign that warns shoppers of the job 'drain' in the region and the increasing move by businesses to source supplies from afar.

With the slogan 'Je conserve nos emplois, je relocalise!' (I'm saving our jobs, I'm local!) the campaign is positioned in opposition to 'de-localisation', encouraging consumers to think sustainably and to buy products firmly anchored in the region.

More than 270 firms  - not limited to food companies -  representing 110,000 people have signed up to the initiative, including major retailers LeClerc, Auchan and Intermarche.

"The campaign encourages consumers to become a player by purchasing a product that guarantees a job," said Gwenaelle Abhamon, sales director at Gonidec that preserves sardines, mackerel, rillettes and tuna. The firm has embossed 20,000 sardine cans with the 'je relocalise!' logo, with an expected reach in 800 sales points across the region.

Abhamon explains to SeafoodSource how the 'buy-local' thrust of the campaign 'corresponds to our values'. In 2011 Gonidec, for example, doubled the surface area of its business: "We are the opposite of other firms who are leaving the region," says the sales director.

And in terms of sustaining local food systems, the cannery, based in Concarneau, buys all its fish from local fishermen, agreeing 'a guaranteed fixed price for the fish a the beginning of each season'. Even 'the tin metal used for our tins' is sourced locally in Brittany, says Abhamon.

Gonidec sells 60 per cent of its tinned fish to retailers, 20 per cent to 'made-to-measure' customers, and the remainder to wholesalers.

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