B2B2C firms in the organic chain are forever on the lookout for innovative ideas. An array of areas exist with room for progress in this fast-developing sector: circularity, technological innovation, zero waste, differentiating labels, etc.

Founded in 2018, Natexpo’s Le Lab brings together start-ups that excel in the circular economy and technological innovation. At the 2019 show, around 50 companies will each exhibit their concept and be offered the opportunity to ‘pitch’ what they have developed.

This dialogue will also be productive, as visitors and exhibitors to the show will be invited to give a mark to the performance of each of the Le Lab participants, leading to the award of a prize at the end of the exhibition.

Here’s a closer look at several of them.

©Nicolas Rodet


Seeking to reduce waste and promote sustainable consumption

The big winner at the last show and back again this year, Pepino is a start-up from Nice whose founders have launched an anti-waste mobile app. The idea is to enable farmers to sell on any non-standard (wrong size, slightly damaged, excess quantity) fruit and vegetables through direct channels to restaurants, processing companies, caterers, charities or even consumers. This is a brilliant idea to address an absurd situation: in France, every year, ten million tonnes of food are thrown away. Thanks to Pepino, 7.7 tonnes of fruit and vegetables have already been salvaged.

©Nicolas Rodet

“Last year, we received some very positive feedback. Le Lab enabled us to validate the utility of our innovation to the sector’s stakeholders,” explains Enzo Giusti, the founder. “We strongly believe that whatever the product and whatever its condition, it has value for an actor in the food chain on a local level.” This second participation in Le Lab will offer the firm a chance to dialogue with all the players in the food chain – potential users of the app – and ascertain their needs more precisely.

Aiming to achieve durability is also a way of acting responsibly for the planet and for change! The label Longtime®, launched by the company Ethikis, is the first to provide information about the durability of a common consumer good and its repairability. The consumer knows that an article meets precise quality criteria and that they are getting justified value for money. Whether it’s household appliances, home entertainment, leisure equipment or tools, the consumer can make their choice with a clear conscience. “The first two products to receive the label will be presented at Natexpo,” explains Elsa Lomont, the co-founder of the label. “We want to offer a platform to manufacturers that support this way of working and promote responsible consumerism through this practical solution.”

©Nicolas Rodet

Having a meal delivered and then throwing away the packaging is something that everyone has done at some point. But when this happens in collective catering, the impact is much greater! This is what let to the ingenious idea of Eat and Back which had designed a lunchbox with a digital deposit payment. No need for money up front: simply order your meal from the restaurant in its lunchbox (deposit click) and when it is brought back, the deposit is returned. The box is then washed and reused. Boxes are made in Tourcoing in the north of France from sustainable bioplastic, which is long-lasting, reusable and fully-recyclable. They come in two sizes – 500 and 800 ml – and can be easily stacked and assembled into units to make up a full meal order.

Already a participant at last year’s show, Celine Scavennec, the co-founder of the concept, is returning this year to Le Lab, which she describes as “a place to have interesting meetings with other start-ups and which gives us some good visibility.” And while the catering professionals currently using Eat and Back lunchboxes for their meal deliveries are mainly based in the Hauts de France region and Belgium, a new adventure will begin in September with the university catering organisation CROUS in Grenoble.

©Gilles Rolle

Making use of by-products from human food

A lot of by-products from the food industry ends up going to waste. When Marie Kerouedan, an expert in sustainable food channels, realised during a brewing course that malt residue (called spent grain) is disposed of after the brewing phase, she decided to do something with them!

She teamed up with Nathalie Golliet, a culinary communications expert, to launch a business making crackers from the by-products of organic beer, marketed under the brand name Résurrection, committed to organic and local trade. Today, half a tonne of spent grain is recycled every month! With their natural curiosity and always on the lookout for new ideas, the founders develop new recipes according to what they uncover, as illustrated by a new formula made from apple pulp. The company, which won the Natexbio Challenge competition, wished to exhibit at Le Lab to “present [their] innovation. We are the first firm to process by-products from human food in the form of crackers,” adds Nathalie. And this idea has led to plenty of others… sprouting up!