Barbara Bidan (Fleury Michon): "The" best waste "is that which we do not produce"


May 10, 2021, 11:15 AM

In partnership with Verallia, Fleury Michon launched the first ready meals in glass packaging. Since April, the French can find on the shelves a range of Fleury Michon ready-made dishes in glass casseroles. This glass innovation required three years of development between the two companies. For, Barbara Bidan , Health and Sustainable Food Director at Fleury Michon, answers our questions about the company's CSR commitment and the adaptation of production processes.

Why and how was this strategic commitment to packaging management at Fleury Michon structured?

For 10 years now, Fleury Michon has been on the virtuous path of systematically reducing the impact of its packaging, favoring recyclable and reusable materials. For us, the “best waste” is the one that we do not produce. This is why we are working on: the integration of recycled material, the development of alternatives to plastic (for example by marketing a range of ready-made meals contained in wooden trays and allowing an 80% reduction in plastic in comparison of a conventional range), improving recyclability by preferring aPET to PCV. In ten years, our efforts have made it possible to save more than 6,850 tonnes of packaging.

Our latest innovation and alternative is the use of glass. Glass is a virtuous alternative to plastic and we wanted to develop it further. Indeed, glass packaging has the advantage of preserving the taste and freshness of food. In addition, these packaging are completely waterproof for perfect conservation of food products.

We first wanted to test this new material as an alternative to stoneware for our casseroles for cooked meals. We therefore asked Verralia, leader in the glass packaging market, to help us develop our new casseroles. The development of this alternative presented several challenges for Fleury Michon and Verallia:

-For Verallia, a first issue was linked to the product: the casserole dish is an atypical format in the packaging glass industry, with a large diameter and delicate production. The Lagnieu plant (Ain) put its expertise at the service of the project, in order to deliver two formats (200ml and 400ml) to Fleury Michon.

-The second and main challenge resided in Fleury Michon's adaptation of its production process. In particular, the company has developed its filling lines and quality processes to offer glass containers in compliance with food safety standards.

How is the daily CSR approach articulated on your production sites?

In our roadmap, we are committed to: “ reconciling economic performance and corporate social responsibility ”. Fleury Michon has always been very ethical and has been able to operate and develop while respecting aspects of responsibility towards all stakeholders. In 2015, Fleury Michon set herself a business project “Helping People Eat Better Every Day”. The production teams are at the heart of the operational deployment of our project and adapt to deploy this progress approach.

Health pillar : To meet our ambition to continuously improve our recipes and offer ever healthier products to consumers, we are adapting our tools, our production methods and our organizations to meet the constraints of each new recipe.

Example: The Montifaut Jambons site

-The manufacture of zero nitrite ham is more delicate because the absence of preservative makes the ham more fragile. This requires a different management adapted to the ultra-fresh (local supplies less than 2 hours from the site, shorter logistics flow, small production series, forecasting of fine sales).

- Reorganization of production: more fragile, our Zero Nitrite ham is the first range to be manufactured in the factory very early in the morning.

Environment pillar :

-Packaging : With each new packaging offered, we invest in new machines.

Example: The site of ready-made meals in Mouilleron-en-Pareds

-We have invested 7 million euros between the renovation of our factory and the installation of a new production tool. We had to rethink the manufacturing process of our ready meals: the way of assembling the dishes, thanks to the installation of a new machine adapted to the new container as well as the cooking method of our dishes thanks to the installation of 'a new traditional oven. With wood, we work in open cooking and the cooked dish is cooked at 190 ° C, for about half an hour (vs. 80 or 90 ° C for PVC).

-Reduction of energy : In 2008, we were set as a target of improving our energy performance by 25%. Twelve years later, we have achieved a reduction of 27%. It is thanks to the involvement of the maintenance teams in managing the energies of the sites and initiating the necessary transformations that we have been able to achieve this. It was especially the machine rooms that were modified over this period to be more economical, but also the lighting and good practices of production staff.

-Strict water management which has enabled us to reduce by 23 liters the water needed to produce one kilo of ready meals on our ready meals site in Mouilleron-en-Pareds.
Regarding the reuse of water, there is effectively between 30 and 50% of the treated water rejected by our ready-made meals production site, which allows the irrigation of around twenty hectares of mainly fodder corn.

Employee pillar : Fleury Michon is convinced that the success of the Group depends on the motivation of the men and women who make up the company. This is encouraged by the establishment of local management, the empowerment of teams, dialogue, training, recognition of each individual.

Example: Accidentology

-Fleury-Michon has launched since 2017 a process called “Together towards 0 accidents” with an ambitious objective: to halve the number of accidents occurring per million hours worked. The objective of this approach is to change the way safety is taken into account in all of the Group's activities by making it a number 1 priority.

Do you think that today, in relation to the environmental question, we are in a more generalized awareness?  

As part of our new self-service strategy, our priority has been to refocus on the expectations of all our consumers by interviewing more than 20,000 people: we have observed a change in expectations and behavior, amplified by the health crisis. The expectations are multiple and constitute different archipelagos. Some people want easier access to quality products with ever higher nutritional quality. The environmental issue is increasingly present both in terms of the location of supplies, methods of cultivation or breeding that are more respectful of the Earth, and in terms of reducing packaging. We realize that we are part of the solution to these expectations.

However, innovations must always stay in step with society, not rushing changes, but supporting them. In this sense, it is a question of not excluding consumers and of continuing to reach out to everyone. In order to guarantee the accessibility of citizens and consumers to profound changes in their consumption habits, a measured approach, of step-by-step progress, must be adopted.

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Related tags
food industry recyclable packaging * glass packaging csr sustainable food

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