“I haven’t bought strawberries yet, I’ve seen them arrive on the stalls, but for me it wasn’t yet the season. Cherries, you also have to wait a bit,” explains Marianne, 35, an employee in the neighborhood.

At his side, France, 64, retired from the fashion industry, agrees. “I buy on instinct. The apricot is too early”, she decides, explaining that she refuses to fill her basket with fruit from Spain – “too many pesticides” – and prefers to “eat local and seasonal”.

Behind his stand, Mohand shakes his head. “These fruits are there because they are good, they are ripe,” grumbles the seller.

“This year, explains Sybille Costaz, a 54-year-old trader, twenty of whom are on this Parisian market, we saw quantities of fruit arrive very early. My apricots come from Roussillon, I tasted them, chose them, they are delicious”. She tends to a perfect fruit, still slightly tangy and bursting with juice, with tender flesh.

“Now is the time to eat these fruits, she sighs. But some customers are difficult, they know everything better than everyone…”, she says.

André Bernard, president of the Chamber of Agriculture of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur explains this paradox of fruits, “when the season advances” faster than consumer knowledge: “We are on very climato-sensitive products. We had temperatures worthy of the end of June, coupled with a full moon phenomenon – which favors the push – in a context of inflation”.

A terrible cocktail for producers, who cannot store fresh produce, as for market gardeners, with “at the end of the chain, strawberries, asparagus or cherries up to 30% cheaper than in recent years”, he says.

– Biological clock and pedagogy –

As on the Aligre market, where France is careful not to “buy too much”, dialogue is difficult in direct sales in rural areas. “We refused to buy a tray of strawberries for my son because it was 50 cents more expensive than at the supermarket, when we had lowered our prices”, says Mr. Bernard, farmer in Vaucluse.

There are, however, ways to “buy smart”, says the Interprofession of fresh fruits and vegetables (Interfel), which offers a weekly basket at 35 euros on its site, prepared with dieticians, with the products of the moment.

“We need to connect the biological clock of consumers with that of the farmer in his field”, pleads Daniel Sauvaitre, general secretary of Interfel, noting the contradictions of a discourse which advocates “quality and the local whereas in twenty years, we have gone from 65% of national production on our plates to 50%” for fruits and vegetables, of which France is the 4th European producer.

At the moment, competition is tough in the wallet, he notes. According to a survey carried out in April by Ipsos for the E.Leclerc Observatory of new consumption, seven out of ten French people say they “regularly deprive themselves of fruit and vegetables because they are too expensive”.

“You have to be educational: a full tank of fuel at 120 euros is the equivalent of the consumption of fruit and vegetables by a family of four for a month”. So, to support French production, he calls for “eating smart” and, from today, strawberries and apricots.