Settled in Vinay, in the heart of the French Alps, the cooperative (with its subsidiary C.T. Noix) brings together more than 500 growers of French Walnuts (450 members and hundreds of independent producers) and exports dry inshell walnuts, fresh walnuts and shelled Walnut all over the world.
Thanks to 80 years of know-how in the production of walnuts and a very rigorous quality approach, the cooperative provides important support to walnut growers and lead them to an excellent quality production based on a rational production method.
The birth of the cooperative
The Grenoble walnut is already well known in France and abroad at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 1930s, France produced the greatest tonnage of walnuts in the world but they are for the vast majority ordinary walnuts and only Grenoble and Perigord walnuts give rise to a significant trade. Most renowned, Grenoble walnuts (Mayette, Franquette and Parisienne) result of a long selection, are selling more expensive than others. The damages caused to farmers pushes the Parliament to work on a "National Brand" legislation that would give buyers a guarantee of authenticity and quality. In order to maintain the reputation of the Grenoble walnuts, the lower Grésivaudan growers have about them, and since 1908, founded in many villages some unions for the sale of their crops. These trade unions federated in 1927.
In 1921, AL. Causse, great importer of walnuts and representative of the Isère trade unions in the United States, had built in Tullins a walnuts preparation plant, on the model of the California Producers trade unions plants. In 1929, he left the Federation of walnut producers have his factory. It then founded the Cooperative of the Federation trade unions of Grenoble walnuts producers. The grandmother of COOPENOIX is born!
With an area of 1,800 square metres, the factory has a steam engine, mechanical washers, a calibrator that could pass 500 bags per day, a mechanical hot air dryer and travelators. The walnuts undergo a treatment approved by the official Committee of hygiene of the Ministry of Agriculture to clean and whiten the shell. Already at this time, the cooperative, in collaboration with the Directorate of agricultural Services, began trials of treatment of trees and popularizes the methods of culture. This tradition continued until our days where the Member producers of COOPENOIX are always very sensitized to these practices.
In the years following the creation of the first Cooperative of the Walnut Producers Federation, growers are now more and more to join it. Their results are such that Corrèze growers asked them advice to establish them as a cooperative.
The Controled Term of Origin
In 1936, the Cooperative of the Grenoble Walnut producers Federation decided to agree with the Region group traders to obtain from the public authorities the designation of origin and the delimitation of the territory producing the Grenoble Walnut. In 1938, June 17th, a decree-law defines the area of the Grenoble walnuts (along the Valley of the Isère, riding on three departments: Isère, Drôme and Savoie) for three varieties of this terroir: the Franquette, the Mayette and the Parisienne.
On September 11th, 1938, a few months after obtaining the Controled Term of Origin, the Cooperative of the Federation became the Cooperative of walnut producers.
The number of adherents culminates in the 1950s with some 600 producers. A figure that declines thereafter due to the consolidation of agricultural holdings (1 700 walnuts producers on the whole aera in 1936 against 1,200 today) to stabilise at around 450 members.
The installation on Vinay
In 1977, in full harvest, Tullins plant burns fully and with it 200 tons of walnuts. The fire will last a week.
In 1978, a new factory is built in Vinay. It will be enlarged in 1992. Over the years, to meet the demand, the tools are evolving and especially those relating to the bagging. This stage leads from a manual labour to mechanization. With new ways of consumption and the multiplication of large retailer brands, packaging change size. From bags of 100 kg, we pass gradually to 500 g and to 1 kg bags. If Vinay factory today is a powerful and responsive production tool (2 000 tons of walnuts shipped each year for the only month of October), recent studies of orchards and simulation of crop forecasts highlight the need to further improve productivity so as to provide customers with even greater responsiveness in early in the season.
A multi-year modernization of the plant plan increases daily capacity of packaging and storage in cold rooms. New technologies of sorting/calibration and solutions of automation of packaging lines are also under consideration.
In recent years
Since the 95s, volumes of walnuts bringing by members have regularly progressed and increased, it increased from 2500T to 6000T or 7000T in the best years.
This increase is explained by the many plantations which arrived in production. It comes from plantations of replacement following the climatic accidents, howling winds of November 1982 and freezing of January 1985 as well as new plantings that replaced the grain planting and milk production (disappearance of pastures).
In addition the cooperative was required to achieve a few external growth operations with the purchase in 2004 of CT NOIX (walnuts in shell activity) and the acquisition of the business of Blain establishments (kernels activity).
A new extension of the factory was completed in 2009 and a modernization of the packaging tool has emerged on his last 4 years
In addition, Coopenoix is working with different partners in a business collaboration.