Sunflower and rapeseed oilcakes are the bioresources that form the backbone of Evertree’s solutions, particularly Green Ultimate, the first plant-based and formaldehyde-free adhesive solution. As a leading company in the oils and proteins sector, the Avril Group aims to create lasting value in the vegetable oil and protein industry to improve nutrition for people and animals while preserving the planet. Isabelle Lemarié, Quality and Innovation Director for Saipol, discusses her company’s pivotal role within the Avril Group and outlines the values shared by Saipol and Evertree.
Saipol, an Avril Group subsidiary, was founded in 1983. We process nearly 3 million tons of rapeseed and sunflower seeds each year, producing 1.6 million tons of oilcakes. Today we are the leading French company in the oilseed processing sector and one of the top companies in Europe for the crushing and refining of vegetable oils and the production of solutions for the energy sector (biofuels and pretreated oils).
We have over 600 employees at our six French sites, most of which are able to transform rapeseed and sunflower seeds into various products. Our plants in the north primarily handle rapeseed while those in the south handle multiple seeds (sunflower and/or rapeseed), due to their proximity to the respective crops.
We operate in an industry that is subject to many uncertainties – fluctuations in how much of a crop is planted from year to year, weather variations, etc. Often, France does not produce enough of these crops and we must compensate with imported seeds. Last year, for instance, rapeseed harvests in France were small and we had to turn to Black Sea countries and Canada for our supply of non-GMO rapeseed.
Our core business is crushing [which will be the subject of an upcoming blog article], and we purchase our seeds from French agricultural cooperatives and international companies. We are continuously working to implement measures that have a positive impact and that are better for the environment, which is why we launched the OleoZE solution last year. We now purchase our seeds in France from farmers and collecting agencies that are committed to sustainable farming practices, offering higher prices to incentivize their efforts.
At Saipol, we receive locally or internationally sourced seeds and transform them into two products: oil and oilcake. It should be noted that 44% of the weight of each individual rapeseed is made up of oil and 55% of its weight will become an oilcake!
The oilcakes we supply to Evertree are produced at our Bassens (Gironde) and Le Mériot (Aube) crushing plants. We have implemented traceability systems that enable us to know exactly where a given seed type is crushed and where it originated. We have the ability to source our oilcakes very precisely. We ensure that the oilcakes we supply to Evertree are GMO-free, and our plants have systems in place to maintain a strict separation between different production types.
We have been working closely with Evertree’s R&D teams since the company began testing, starting by working together to determine which sunflower or rapeseed oilcakes would work best for them. Of all the oilcakes we produce, Evertree quickly chose the ones that had the highest protein content.
We are committed to making our industry carbon-free and that means our values align closely with Evertree’s mission and vision. That is why we developed energy solutions that drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and why we launched OleoZE in 2020, a project that has already led to the collection of 80,000 tons of seeds produced by farms that use soil conservation methods. We also implemented biomass furnaces that supply energy to many of our sites, using sunflower seed hulls and wood chips as fuel.