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Agro-ecology, innovation, a "profit-with-purpose" company Bonduelle: an industrial player with a positive impact

For Bonduelle, creating a better future through plant-based foods means being an agro-industrial player with a positive impact on its ecosystem. Bonduelle, a French family-owned company, has been innovating with its partners in the plant-based foods industry for 166 years, while continuously improving its business model. Its priorities include preserving soil and biodiversity, getting involved in local communities and encouraging people to eat healthily and sustainably.

"As family shareholders, two objectives are in our DNA, namely respect for the natural environment and our determination to make people central to the company's goals. Armed with these basic values, we defined our 2025 goal in 2012, i.e. to be the world reference in "well-living" through plant-based products. We are currently involved in obtaining B Corp certification, to ensure the continued improvement of our business model in order to create a better future through plant-based products."

Guillaume Debrosse, Bonduelle Group Chief Executive Officer

Preserving soil and biodiversity: a positive impact on the natural environment

This is one of the major challenges facing the company. Bonduelle expects to accomplish much in this regard. Its strength lies mainly in the process that has been put in place with its farmer partners. Entering into contracts with farmers on an annual basis ensures a fair allocation of the value created and assists partners over the whole vegetable growing cycle. More than 260 field supervisors (agronomists) work alongside producers on a daily basis. The challenge is to successfully achieve the desired ecological transition together—transitioning from a production-based system at the expense of nature to a system based on "functional biodiversity" where production is made possible by harnessing nature.

By 2025, the Group aims to cultivate 100% of the land (128,000 hectares across the world) using at least one alternative cultivation technique, i.e. crop rotations, drainage, cover crops, mechanical weeding, no-till farming, drip irrigation, etc.). In doing so, Bonduelle aims to support developments in agricultural production methods alongside its farmer partners.

In 2009, for example, the Group participated in the creation of a pilot farm network in Picardie, which enabled the use of inputs in open-field vegetable production to be reduced. This project continues today through the Innova Terre network, within which around 60 farmers test new practices and share ideas to ensure that farming moves in the right direction.

The VEGESOL project, in which Bonduelle participates, aims to study the impact of tillage (cover crops, plowing, use of nitrogen fertilizer, etc.) on biodiversity and yield. It consists of a 7 hectare platform in the north of France where various pilot schemes have been carried out on an eight-year rotational cycle. Launched in 2010, the project has already produced a number of scientific theses. The project has made it possible to establish that the use of nitrogen fertilizers may be significantly reduced through conservation agriculture and the planting of cover crops, while at the same time maintaining high yields. Since 2018, it has entered a new phase, with one of its main objectives being to step up the application of agro-ecological practices to vegetable farming by expanding the scientific knowledge of cover crops.

Finding solutions to the problems facing agro-industrial businesses: a positive impact through experimentation and innovation.

The importance of digital technology in businesses related to Bonduelle's activity is now indisputable. Technological progress, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, makes it possible to experiment with new ways of doing things in every area, including agriculture, industry, distribution, marketing and even in terms of services offered to consumers. In agriculture, for example, these innovations include Smart farming, drones, satellite imagery, smart sensors, etc.

As regards marketing and products, Bonduelle takes part in collaborative platforms, is a partner to start-ups and improves its products as part of programs like the "clean label". In addition, Bonduelle uses innovation to make plant-based food available to everyone. The new concept store, "Émotion Végétale", which opened its doors in Saint-Priest (Rhône), offers a full range of Bonduelle products in all the various packaging formats in addition to services, like the availability of seasonal vegetable baskets or products from innovative start-ups in plant-based food. More recently, Bonduelle rolled out the Cabaletta robot, which will deliver custom fresh plant-based foods directly to workplaces.

Bonduelle's 2025 goal is for innovation to account for 15% of the Group's revenue.

Encouraging people to eat healthily and sustainably: a positive impact through food

Being the world reference in "well-living" through plant-based foods also means offering food that is safe, varied, eco-friendly and accessible. Bonduelle intends to satisfy consumer needs by offering new products and services. However, market realities and consumer needs vary from one country to another. For this reason, the Group is working towards a model that intelligently combines quality, sustainability and competitiveness, to be able to offer tailored solutions to each and every consumer.

Bonduelle's intention is to provide vegetables from sustainable agriculture, biological agriculture and vegetables with no pesticide residue. Concerning the organic sector, for example, while the goal is to expand the product line, the Group is already a major player in the organic market and is also the European leader in organic corn. In France, Bonduelle is the leader in bagged organic salads and is also launching 100% organic frozen products made in France and a range of vegetables in glass jars.

Since early 2019, Bonduelle has also proposed a range of products "with no pesticide residue" (bagged salads and canned corn) in addition to the plant-based products to meet the needs of certain consumers.

Lastly, "Visa Santé", its continuous improvement initiative, leads the company to revise its recipes and develop new products (258 recipes revised between 2009 and 2017). This resulted in 98% of Bonduelle products being graded A or B in France based on the Nutri-Score nutritional framework.

Bonduelle is an international group whose business and agricultural model makes it possible to play an active role in growing methods alongside its farmer partners, in the recipes for its products in the six development centers throughout the world and in eating behaviors through the Louis Bonduelle Foundation.

Taking part in tackling environmental and societal issues: a positive impact arising from a sense of community and local involvement

Lastly, Bonduelle is committed to taking part in tackling current environmental and societal issues in line with its corporate vision defined in 2012 which sets out the Group's ambition, namely "to be the world reference in "well-living" through plant-based food".

In order to demonstrate its commitment to this CSR trajectory on which it embarked a number of years ago, Bonduelle began the Corp B certification process in 2018. Its goal is to have 30% of its business by revenue receive B Corp certification over the next three years. This holistic approach to continuous improvement is extremely rigorous but, more importantly, it is a source of inspiration for the Group's employees. It is designed to assess the Group's business model within its entire ecosystem, in terms of governance, employees, local communities and the environment. All of these initiatives are aligned with Bonduelle's goal of becoming a "profit-with-purpose" company— to be the best for the world and not the best in the world.

An overview of the Bonduelle Group's impact:

  • 73% of the Group's farmer partners have reduced the use of inputs on their farms,
  • 46% recycled materials in packaging.
  • 92% of waste is recovered (including 100% of green waste through animal feed, methanation, composting, etc.)
  • 7,531 tonnes of CO2 saved through the use of alternatve transportation
  • 82% of the land cultivated benefits from an insect monitoring system for better crop management.
  • 100% of Bonduelle's facilities have at least one quality certification, including 16% having organic certification
  • 96% of the Group's farmer partners signed the agronomic charter
  • 11.7% of the energy mix comes from alternative energy

RP carrées Netco Group

Benjamin ZEHNDER                    +33.(0)   

Vanessa VAZZAZ                        +33.(0)   

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