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Intolerance and allergies: plant-based alternatives from Florès - Companies

Intolerance and allergies: plant-based alternatives from Florès – Companies

With its milk, its ice creams, its spreads and its plant-based culinary solutions, Florès meets the needs of intolerant and allergic people, but also to the growing demand for plant-based alternatives. The Belgian SME saw one of its products selected at the prestigious International Food Fair in Paris (Sial).

The story begins in 2018 in the Namur region. The daughter of Philippe Limbourg, who has just left his post as content director at Gault & Millau Belgium, is diagnosed with intestinal permeability. Here she is forced to avoid allergens such as lactose or gluten. With his experience in the culinary world and a chef himself, Philippe Limbourg decided to take the bull by the horns.

The story begins in 2018 in the Namur region. The daughter of Philippe Limbourg, who has just left his post as content director at Gault & Millau Belgium, is diagnosed with intestinal permeability. Here she is forced to avoid allergens such as lactose or gluten. With his experience in the culinary world and a chef himself, Philippe Limbourg decided to take the bull by the horns. “I wanted to create products that would allow my daughter to live in an almost normal daily life. I spoke about it to René Mathieu, the chef of the restaurant La Distillerie, in Luxembourg, recognized worldwide for his 100% vegetable culinary creations. He put me on the trail of cashew and macadamia nuts and gave me some recipes. Coming back from this meal at home with Bernard de Burlin, we were convinced that there was material to start a business there. .” PhiCroBe (original contraction of Philippe Limbourg, Jean-Christophe Duplat and Bernard de Burlin), an SRL, was born. But it was necessary to get to work and manage to develop products worthy of being marketed. “It took me months and hundreds of tries in my kitchen to come up with two things with a nice texture, recalls Philippe Limbourg. A thick cream and a spread. I was very proud until the moment I I received the results from the lab: too many bacteria! I then turned to the Smart Gastronomy Lab at ULiège. Their collaboration enabled us to make a serious leap forward. And we ended up finding the right formula, the right texture and the right method.” For a year, Philippe Limbourg will produce alone (sometimes with the help of his two partners anyway! ) and by hand the two products launched under the Prétexte brand in the Atelier de Bossimé, a “sustainable” restaurant based in Namur. . “It was tedious but at the same time exciting. The Rob brand was then the first to trust us. Chains of organic stores like Biostory, in Walloon Brabant, also started to follow us. At the same time, the chefs, very interested by the vegetable base, asked me to imagine a more liquid cream that they could work with. It took another months before arriving at the culinary cream, our third product. It allowed us to explode our sales and open the doors of the Barn sign to us.” The volumes becoming too large, the three partners then decided to entrust the production of Prétexte products to an ETA, in this case Travie in Anderlecht. “We have always had the desire to work with adapted work companies, confides Jean-Christophe Duplat. This is part of our values. Unfortunately, none work with frozen foods or Tetra Brik. For our other products, we therefore went looking for skills where they were. Meeting new partners creates different dynamics and, sometimes, synergies.” Because after the three Prétexte products, the company did not stop there. She ended up taking over Florès ice cream and sorbets, 100% vegetable products with explosive flavors: sea buckthorn, apricot & lavender, sweet pepper & raspberry, quinoa lemon basil, etc. “During the months spent at the Atelier de Bossimé, I kept coming across Jesus Florès who came to produce his ice cream there, continues Philippe Limbourg. He is a farmer who did everything himself and, of course, to In the long run, it became unmanageable. We concluded a financial agreement and took over the brand. Since then, Jesus has been working with us as a freelancer.” Change of name Florès ice creams are now produced in the specialized company Gilfi in Francorchamps, the packaging being entrusted to Perron, an ETA in the Liège region. The takeover of the Florès brand will lead to the disappearance of Prétexte, until all the labels on the returnable jars are used up. A name change that goes without saying. “Pretext was a nod to Philippe’s mother, confides Bernard de Burlin. But the meanders of the French language give a pejorative connotation to this term. As when we have something to hide. However, our cardinal value is the transparency. All our products are organic and contain a maximum of five ingredients and no chemicals. And the sourcing is tracked.” Soon, all PhiCroBe products will bear the name of Florès (the website has already migrated: www.floresfood.bio). With the exception of the youngest released just before the summer, Quinoat milk, made from quinoa and oats, produced in partnership with the Hesbignon brand Graines de Curieux and the Olympia dairy in Hérinnes, in Pajottenland. A remarkable product that all the Belgian organic brands are already snapping up and which was a finalist (among 20,000 other products!) in the innovation of the year category at the last Sial in Paris. “If we want to be qualitative, and Philippe’s image imposes it on us, and remain accessible in terms of price to offer a plant-based alternative to as many people as possible, we must work in partnership and favor local sourcing, underlines Bernard de Burlin. Working with Graines de Curieux is part of this, especially since our distribution channels were complementary. The idea is to continue developing plant-based alternatives to dairy products based on this quinoa and oat milk. A yoghurt, for example. We also want to raise awareness among farmers so that they increase the production of Belgian quinoa. Finally, by the end of the year, Florès will be releasing new ice creams made from this milk: vanilla, chocolate & citrus fruits, pear , etc. I would add, about the milk, that our packaging is very advanced in terms of sustainability: 95% comes from recycled materials and the cap is of vegetable origin. ‘alu where the Tetra Brik The usual ones have 10. Sig, a Swiss company at the forefront of sustainable packaging, designed it.” The three partners have set up a starting capital of 112,000 euros. To which was added a loan from BNP Paribas Fortis, which believed in their entrepreneurial project. That is almost a starting bet of 300,000 euros. Subsequently, over time, the company called on investors who, like them, appreciate the long term, like Namur Invest or Côme de Cherisey, the former CEO of Gault & Millau International today very active in supporting start-ups related to food and foodtech. As for the partnership with Graines de Curieux, it is based on the establishment of a common cost center and an identical sharing of profit margins. “Developing products will mean that we increase the skills of the company, concludes Bernard de Burlin. We have just hired our first employee. This is probably only the beginning since the idea is to grow in the Netherlands. Bas where our ice cream works well as well as in France. Which will require additional resources given the size of the market.” “We are in the process of establishing a strategic plan, adds Jean-Christophe Duplat. When it is ready, it is not impossible that we return to our current partners and solicit others.”

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