The family-owned food maker has written a new mission into its articles of association and applied a new governance arrangement to oversee the progress of its environmental, social and societal goals. It is the first company in Haute-Loire region and one of the first SMEs to do so.
The mission? To support the ‘dietary transition’ towards plant-based proteins and sustainable diets.
“Since 1819, anchored in the Velay region, we have worked with our teams to develop our family business in the long term. Our mission is to support the dietary transition by offering a variety of natural, good and healthy products, in particular based on plant proteins, favourable to a sustainable diet,” the company stated.
“Our mission also contributes to the preservation of biodiversity, the environment and the regional cultural heritage.”
Progress against these objectives will be checked once a year by a specially established ‘mission committee’. The first meeting will take place in October, when more tangible and measurable objectives will be established, FoodNavigator was told.
Marie-Sophie Teyssier, president of the committee, explained: "Our food system must change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by limiting the consumption of products of animal origin. [We will support this] by being a player in the development of plant products such as cereals and pulses while respecting biodiversity through the establishment of sustainable supply chains.”
Sabarot has responded to evolving market expectations and growth in the plant-based space by being ‘proactive’ in the face of this demand and diversifying its range, the company said.
Sabarot offers cereals, pulses, seeds, snails and mushrooms. The company said it has focused its innovation efforts on the development of ‘new technologies’, such as sprouted seeds and cooked and frozen cereals and pulses.
Valérie Astier, Communications Officer, told us that this approach builds on Sabarot’s ‘very committed and eco-responsible CSR approach’.
Delivering ‘dynamic and profitable’ growth
Astier believes Sabarot has been at the forefront of plant-protein innovation, with Antoine Wassner – the seventh generation of the family heading up the company – predicting the trend early on.
Wassner ‘sensed the craze’ for the ‘veggie trend’ during his ‘many trips’ abroad back in the mid-2000s and ‘predicted the arrival of this trend in France by adapting the company’s offer’.
“Consequently, he succeeded in reconciling dynamic and profitable development while retaining [the company’s] family character,” Astier observed.
Looking to the future, innovation will be key. The company plans to continue growing its range and acting as a ‘seed finder’ in the search for new plant-based protein options.
“Meeting and anticipating market expectations, being proactive in the face of demand as Sabarot has been with the veggie trend, will support future growth. This is what the company continues to do with the creation of the IQF deep freezing line: cooking and deep freezing of pulses and cereals.”
And Sabarot, like many industry observers, believes plant-based is here for the long-run. “Vegetable proteins are an ally for health and can replace animal proteins in the daily diet, this does not mean that we should no longer eat meat but simply reduce its consumption,” Astier told us.
“We are turning more and more towards sustainable agriculture,” she continued. “Innovation will also focus on optimizing energy consumption (carpooling, solar panels, energy recovery); replacing plastic films with biodegradable and recyclable cardboard boxes with a reduction in secondary packaging; selective sorting; waste optimization; biodegradable packaging... We are committed to promoting agricultural products certified Haute Valeur Environnementale [High Environmental Value].”
Entreprise à Mission model
Introduced in France in 2019 with the Pacte law, an entreprise à mission company is defined as a company whose purpose - and whose objectives in the social, societal and environmental fields aligned with this purpose - are set out in its Articles of Association. It is not a new legal form. The aim is to ensure that the purpose of the company is fixed on long-term objectives which are described in the company’s Articles.
The Articles specify the means by which the execution of the Mission will be monitored, under the control of a Mission Committee, which is distinct from the Board Committees and which must include at least one employee.
An independent third party verifies the execution of the Mission, and establishes a written opinion annexed to the report of the Mission Committee to shareholders and made available on the internet site of the company for a period of five years.