The atmosphere is cozy, the light, subdued. The smell is that of the undergrowth. With a firm step in her work boots, Emmanuelle Roze Chapuzet walks the aisles of her mushroom farm with pride.
The building, in the colors of its company Legulice, has just come out of the ground in Puy-en-Velay for the tidy sum of 12 million euros. The site joins three other facilities, in Poilley in Brittany, in Mayenne and near Vendôme, in the Center region. Enough to now supply the four corners of France with button mushrooms.
At 47, this Breton, who co-founded in 2009, Légulice and its brand Lou Vegetableswith her husband and brother, won her bet: to offer French mushrooms.
Because even today, from Poland to the Netherlands via China, 70% of button mushrooms grow…abroad before being shipped to our plates. “We still have a lot of leeway to develop,” insists the manager, both marketing and human resources director of this group which employs 450 employees. Especially since the consumption of fresh mushrooms in France is still far from equaling that of its neighbors in Europe. In France, each adult swallows 2.7 kilos per year when an Irishman, for example, tastes almost three times more.
It must be said that Emmanuelle Roze Chapuzet, who, behind an azure blue gaze, admits a strong character, has planned everything. “All our mushrooms are produced without pesticides”, says this boss, whose husband, a fine cook, regularly cooks small dishes based on the Lou ranges.
Another singularity put forward by the trio, the fresh mushrooms are picked by hand, before being immediately placed in a tray. “A good picker can benefit from a monthly salary of 500 to 600 euros above the minimum wage”, says Emmanuelle Roze Chapuzet, who has just signed a brand license agreement with farmers on Reunion Island. locals who now produce mushrooms “in strict compliance with our methods”, she insists.
Still, growing mushrooms is no easy feat. If it started the cultivation of oyster mushrooms, sold in particular to catering professionals, the Lou Légumes brand had to give up chanterelles and porcini mushrooms, which require a long process of technological adaptation.
Months in the Philippines
But Emmanuelle Roze Chapuzet remains on the lookout. In Coutances, in the Manche department, its windows overlook Mont-Saint-Michel. And it is on the shores of this “Wonder of the World” that the couple acquired six hectares of arable land. “We are going to grow red fruits there”, agrees to specify Emmanuelle Roze Chapuzet. She won’t say more.
The child of a large family, this daughter of a business executive, whose father passionately managed a neighborhood cinema, never feared novelty. Barely graduated, the student, born in Rennes, left the Nantes campus of Audencia to cross the Channel. She will live two years in England, after an end-of-studies internship at L’Oréal. Then, she criss-crossed Japan before staying for several months in the Philippines.
Parish and vintage furniture
It was not until 2005 that she was hired in Saumur by France Champignon, where she met her husband.
Mother of a ten-year-old girl and a fervent Catholic, she spends some of her free time with the children of the parish… between two flea markets where, as an informed bargain hunter, she likes to unearth vintage furniture.