The fruits of the future – An ongoing process of innovation
3 questions for Damien Chapoulart, Amont Fruitier Director of the Andros group, to better understand the new horizons for fruit and ongoing R&D
The future of the Amont Fruitier will be determined by innovation. What directions are you going in? Our two major challenges are always to improve quality and accessibility. This expresses itself in different ways. There are the different varieties, which represent a kingdom of infinite choice, between those which have been forgotten, those which have been cultivated and those new varieties which we test each year… Then, we also innovate in terms of picking methods. Even with the best variety in the world, if it’s picked at the wrong moment, too late or too early, or if it’s poorly treated at the first transformation, it will present badly. And finally, the methods of cultivation. We play with sun exposure, soil life, responses to climate change…while examining how that impacts vitamins, amino acids or minerals in the fruits. Our experimental orchard in the Lot region is precious in this regard; we can try ambitious things. And we also support our farmers enormously in their agro-ecological research. In all our main sectors, we have test sites and an experimental network that allows us to advance. And when you do trials, how much is based on science and how much on intuition? It’s a mix! For me, fruit is a living product. After the first transformation we move to a much more standardised environment where we can isolate the variables. But in fruit farming, there are innumerable variables, and we risk getting lost while wanting rational and scientific reasoning at all costs. We need science, but we also function a lot by instinct. For this, it’s important to be surrounded by trusted people who may call you to say, “listen, I tasted something you should try”. This sometimes works just as well as academic methods. What’s on the horizon for the Amont Fruitier strategy? The Amont Fruitier strategy is about the long term. Our horizons are dictated by the fruit: you have to wait 5 years after planting a seed to get a fruit, or 7 years for citrus. Therefore, we need patience to build a fruit heritage that will be sustainable. Its power comes from the human network that we’re building, from our knowledge of different varieties and our expertise.. We want to connect the Amont Fruitier even more to the rest of the sector, to communicate the challenges that motivate us, to bring people in, to allow them to taste new flavours, to share our passion.