UK carrot producers are targeting the French retail sector with Chantenay carrots in a "coals-to-Newcastle" move they hope could provide a major diversification opportunity.

Nottinghamshire carrot co-operative Freshgro has secured a contract to supply Chantenay to French retailer Auchan. The produce will be marketed under children's premium brand Rik & Rok, whose cartoon characters will feature on pack.

Freshgro hopes it will be able to roll the carrots out in other French supermarkets, in what could be the start of significant expansion across Europe. Freshgro already supplies Chantenay to Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Freshgro MD Martin Evans said the move was a major coup as it would essentially be selling a French creation back to the French.

"To sell our Chantenay in France is a bit like taking coals to Newcastle," he said, adding that there were significant opportunities for sales growth in Europe.