In rhythm with the tides – When oyster farming meets sustainability

timer3 minAugust 2022

France has always been considered a paradise for oyster farming. The best species grow here, highly valued by gourmets and merchants all over the world, including METRO. The Geay family, oystercatchers in La Tremblade since 1874, not only has a profound appreciation for oysters, but also deeply cares about ground-breaking and sustainable farming.

They are affectionately called L’Ultime de GEAY, Speciales GEAY, La Fine De Claire Verte or Les Inséperables. They grow in the crystal clear waters of the French Atlantic coast, densely aggregated in oyster beds. It takes between 3 and 5 years for the coveted oysters to mature in taste and be ready for award-winning cuisine. But these molluscs are not easy to grow. It takes a lot of patience and a unique environment for them to grow into the highly sought-after delicacies for gourmets. The Geay family has been dedicated to growing the best oysters for 5 generations. With a strong passion for these shellfish, the company operates its farms in the Charente basins, located between the mainland, the river Seudre and the island of Oléron in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Marennes Olerons. This is the perfect place for oysters to grow, because the tides constantly supply them with phytoplankton and sediments. At the same time, they are well protected in the basin from the strong swells of the Atlantic, allowing them to mature in a sheltered environment.

Living and working with the tides

Adrien Geay (r.), Geay Family

The work on the oyster beds is aligned with the tides. Twice a day, at low tide, the sea exposes the large oyster colonies, which makes them easy to reach. ‘We work in harmony with nature, but we never try to control it. Instead, we adapt to the rhythm of the weather and the sea’, explains Adrien Geay, who has taken over the family business. Working sustainably and in harmony with nature – this notion resonates throughout the entire company.
The oysters themselves are already real eco-heroes: they clean the water every time they eat and do not need to be fed from the outside. Everything that is left over after the harvest is reused: Damaged oyster bags (the nets in which the oysters grow) are reused for new ones. The transport boxes are made exclusively from sustainably grown PEFC-certified wood, which ensures that for every felled tree another one is planted. But the key feature are the oyster shells. They are real all-rounders when it comes to recycling. Geay works together with the Ovive Company in La Rochelle, which resells the micro-broken oyster shells to manufacturers who incorporate them into their production. Their robust outer layer is used to create paints, glasses or even shoes and filament for 3D printers. 

Geay oysters all over the world

The sustainability promise and conscientious farming make Geay oysters highly sought-after products on the global market. The 8 different types have a distinctive taste and are very popular with restaurateurs. Since 2010 the company started to export far beyond France’s borders to over 50 countries such as China, Italy, Spain, Hungary and czech republic. It also became a supplier for METRO with its products. Because of their confirmation of the social and ecological habitat in which the oysters are raised, the company is therefore in high demand. Adrien Geay is leading the company sustainably into the future. He is planning to install solar panels for power generation and electrical implements to manage the oyster farms. ‘It’s our duty to protect the ocean, because this is the only way we can preserve the continuity and excellence of our oysters for years and generations to come.’

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METRO own brands

Geay oysters and many other high-quality products belong to METRO's own brands range. Under this category, customers can find everything that makes the Gasto heart beat faster - from kitchen equipment to high-quality food. With their excellent price-performance ratio, the private labels stand for consistent customer orientation in the assortment and specialisation in the gastronomy sector. METRO therefore carefully selects partners who stand for a unique selection, the greatest possible availability and the best possible transparency.