French farmers warn of Charentais melon shortages this summer

French farmers warn of Charentais melon shortages this summer
Farmers report a shortage of workers to pick melons. Photo: AFP
The French favourite Charentais melons could be in short supply this summer, farmers have warned.

The small sweet melons have been produced in the Poitou-Charentes area of south west of France for centuries and are exported all over the world.

But this year farmers are warning of possible shortages after finding great difficulties in getting workers to pick the melons.

The small sweet melons are a French favourite. Photo: AFP

The area produces more than 10,000 tonnes of melons a year, and producers are looking for around 5,000 seasonal workers who will be working in the fields in a few weeks to harvest the ripe fruit.

But finding the pickers is not easy.

“You have to call 200 people to find 100 available. And only 50 will be present the next day in the fields,” Christophe Couteleau, director of the Rouge-Gorge melons, told French newspaper Le Parisien.

Julien Godet, President of the Haut-Poitou Melon Growers' Union, confirmed the trend, adding: “We have a lot of trouble finding reliable people who stay until the end of the season. I worry more about the staff than about the marketing of my melons!”

Faced with the labour shortage, some melon growers are reducing the areas they have planted, meaning that there will be less of the fruit available on the market this summer.