What does the future of organic food look like? One of the most pressing challenges in the transition to organic is the lack of reliable organic raw material supply. We are on a journey to change that. From farmers to consumers, we are committed to optimizing organic lipids supply chains by creating an ecosystem in which stakeholders work closely together with the common goal of supporting organic supply. Our portrait series is our way of spilling the beans, highlighting our efforts and partnerships that are instrumental to making organic food available for everyone.
“An important driver of the organic market is to increase the availability of organic lipids to make organic products available to as many consumers as possible. With this partnership, we have the right exchange and communication with organic farmers on the one hand and food manufacturers on the other hand. That is very important for the future growth of the organic market.” Jan Verbruggen, founder of Biolintec.
For this second portrait, we deep dive into the story of our partner Biolintec, a family-owned manufacturing facility for organic textured soybean, oils and proteins in southwest France, responsible for uplifting the local farming community and embodying the organic movement. Since 1960, the Verbruggen family farm (founders of Biolintec) has been producing organic fruits and vegetables. Through years of experience, technical know-how and organic farming knowledge, today Biolintec can produce organic soya protein and sunflower oil using certified organic seeds.
We connected with Jan Verbruggen, the founder of Biolintec, to understand the efforts they put into raising awareness of organic farming and ensuring a growing supply of organic ingredients.
The organic food industry has been growing rapidly for years, yet one of the biggest challenges the industry faces is supply. It’s important to form partnerships that bridge that gap and help make organic food available to as many consumers as possible. But, if the organic market is growing so rapidly, why are farmers hesitant to convert from traditional to organic farming? Here’s what Jan had to say: “Traditional farming is like following a recipe – you need to apply a certain fertilizer, sow at a particular time of the year, and so on. But organic farming is different; you need more land to grow organic food and farmers have to re-learn farming and storage practices.”
Each farmer has different needs. These vary with the size of their farm, the rotation of crops, the scale of investment, collection services required and so on. Biolintec helps organic farmers navigate these challenges, acting as a bridge between them and the wider market. Throughout the year, Biolintec organizes roundtable meetings where farmers can meet and interact with the right people, be it about an investment or the collection of their seasonal crops.
“The world of organic farming is like a family,” observes Jan. “The success of one inspires the other to follow suit. This success is driven by producing the right crops at the right time.” The farming community that Biolintec works with is passionate and has the right skills, but what they don’t always have is market and consumer insights.”
Jan looks to Bunge Loders Croklaan for these much-needed insights that help convince more farmers to convert to organic farming. “In the face of price volatility, farmers need to sow the right seeds. It takes at least three years to convert to organic. So, farmers need insights and knowledge of the market to begin the conversion. This is where Bunge Loders Croklaan really helps us. As a longstanding player in the market, we rely on them for a good view of the future.”
Jan assures us that more and more farmers are feeling encouraged to transition to organic farming with each passing day. But farmers are just one part of the organic supply chain; there are also the manufacturers. Jan explains that achieving an organic label status is not an easy task for food manufacturers. Besides sourcing organic ingredients, the manufacturing processes they employ also need to be certified organic.
As part of the ecosystem that supports transition to organic, Bunge Loders Croklaan and Biolintec work closely with farmers to secure and guarantee high-quality, organic supplies for food manufacturers, while also guaranteeing the farmers' volumes. Good business needs a thorough flow of knowledge, expertise, and insights. And this is what unlocks the synergy between Biolintec and Bunge Loders Croklaan. “An important driver of the organic market is to make organic products available to as many consumers as possible. With this partnership, we have the right exchange and communication with organic farmers on the one hand and food manufacturers on the other hand. That is very important for the future growth of the organic market”, says Jan – and we agree wholeheartedly.
Organic farming requires investment – not only of capital but also time. It’s a long-term commitment. But the difference it leads to is remarkable, exclaims Jan. “Because of the organic produce we see birds returning in packs to organic fields. And. we are truly proud of the work we do,” Jan explains, “and the impact it has – not just on the farming community and nature around us, but also on the lives of the consumers we ultimately reach globally, thanks to our partnership with Bunge Loders Croklaan.”