The “Syndicat National des Importateurs/exportateurs de Fruits et Légumes” (National Union of Importers/Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables, or SNIFL) at Saint Charles International first came ito being in 1965. This was at a time when the few dozen importers operating on the Perpignan wholesale market were beginning to feel cramped for space and the Saint Charles trading hub was still an unfinished Holy Grail. The historic site of Saint Charles International rapidly filled up and many businesses spread out, both inside and outside the site, occupying 200,000 m2 of climate-controlled warehousing across an area of 70 ha.
The fresh fruit and vegetables tonnages sold through the Saint Charles International platform quickly grew. Yves Mir, a former director of Saint Charles, recalls the landmark year of 1984, the year of a million tons, where on one fine day in December, 20,000 tons of citrus fruit passed through the toll gates, or the equivalent weight of two Eiffel Towers.
Different names for different times:
In 1965, SNIFL was known, in English, as the “National Union of Importers and Exporters from Pyrénées-Orientales”.
In 1976, it adopted the name of “National Union of Importers and Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables from Spain”. Since then, SNIFL has remained the “Syndicat National des Importateurs/exportateurs de Fruits et Légumes”.
SNIFL has also developed some fine tools over the years, some of which are unique in France, such as automated import and export databases, or the sector-leading systems for tracking data in real-time.
It was also the site of the world’s first solar power plant integrated into a building in the form of photovoltaic tiles – on the roofs of the warehouses at Saint Charles, where it was inaugurated in 2011.
It has taken fifty years of tireless effort, fights and alliances to create this trading hub based in Perpignan since 1965 – a hub that leads the way in Europe for the sale, transport and logistics of fruit and vegetables.