The development of eco-friendly production at the Agropole science park is the keynote event of the IPA 2012 trade show, which is running alongside Sial 2012 at Paris-Nord Villepinte exhibition centre.
The park was set up in 1990 as a focus for nurturing medium-sized food and drink manufacturers. By the end of last year, 132 firms had been installed at the site, employing 2,523 people.
Visitors to international processing and packaging show IPA heard how food processor Boncolac had plans to install a new production unit for its prepared food range as an extension to its existing Agropole site.
The new plant will be eco-designed and will comply with the latest health and environmental standards, the company said.
The factory represents a doubling of Boncolac’s industrial capacity and will prepare bread-based catering specialities such as catering trays, canapés and cocktail sandwiches for the foodservice sector.
The project is supported by Agropole Enterprises with a €7.5m grant and has also received assistance from the General Council and Regional Council.
Boncolac will acquire the plant under a rent-to-own agreement and aims to invest €9m in new machines and equipment there.
Work began earlier this month and Boncolac expects it to be completed in August 2013.
Frozen prepared meals
Boncolac’s turnover for prepared meals has increased from €3.2m in 1998 to €20m currently. Since its acquisition of an 80% shareholding in Terres des Lys in December 2011, it has become one of the French leaders in frozen prepared meals.
The company produces 11,000 tonnes of pastries and 2,000 tonnes of frozen prepared meals and has a total turnover of €107m.
Boncolac’s decision follows the development of the first agri-food eco-plant as part of the Agropole project. €1.4m has been invested in the pilot plant.
The plant features 90 solar panels connected to the electricity grid; a rainwater collection system; and a mixed gas/biomass steam boiler, which burns waste vegetable oils and fats from plants at the site.
In addition, refrigeration systems at the 1,000m2 plant have been optimised to reduce electricity consumption.
“Centralised refrigeration management and new equipment have resulted in energy savings of 20-30%,” an Agropole statement claims.
Variable speed drives
“The ‘floating high pressure’ system produces refrigeration depending on the outside temperature and variable speed drives installed on the refrigeration compressors minimise energy consumption.”
Since July 2011 the eco-plant has housed Le Sojami, a manufacturer of organic soya-based lactofermented product.
Visitors to IPA were able to take a virtual tour of the Agropole eco-plant.