Fanny Lemaire, présidente d’Interbio Pays de la Loire.
Fanny Lemaire, President of Interbio Pays de la Loire.

There are some personalities who stand out in the organic sector. People you often hear about, people you just can’t miss, and people who honour Natexpo with their presence. Today we meet Fanny Lemaire, President of Interbio Pays de la Loire.


Hello Fanny, Can you tell us a bit about yourself: who are you, where do you come from, what do you do?

I’m from a farming background, and after spending years in management functions in commercial fruit growing groups, I started out 30 years ago in organic farming, first as an organic fruit and vegetable wholesaler, then as a training consultant working with specialist retailers.

The mission of Interbio Pays de la Loire (just like all the Interbios or regional collectives) is to promote regional organic products towards local authorities under the provisions of the Egalim act, and to organic shops, local groceries and mass retailers for local organic products, and foster meetings for all the players in need of connections in our sector. I suppose you could say I’m an official salesperson for organic products in the Pays de la Loire region – but an unpaid one (laughs)!

The organic market has experienced a difficult few months and times are tough. How are you dealing with the situation?

I belong to a pioneering family, because the first ever organic product (coined as “natural” at the time) was the Lemaire bread in 1920, and the Lemaire-Boucher method was created in 1964. From then on, there were a lot of battles up until the official organic recognition in 1980 in France, and in 1999/2000 for European regulations. This is an asset that we don’t capitalise upon enough in our dealings with the general public. We should pool our energies to persuade politicians to fully apply the Egalim Act, and I would dare to say, “I thank the politicians for applying the Act” AND we should inform consumers about organic regulations, the fact that it is an official label, and we are the sector that undergoes the most inspections. Today we have scientific proof of the benefits of organic. The positive environmental knock-on effects are unquestionable and essential.

At our most recent event, we rolled out a regional version of the “Bio Réflexe” campaign for “Organic springtime” and Angers played host to the Agence Bio Bus on 18 May as part of its BIOTOURS. All the members of our INTERBIO (producers, processors, retailers) were out in force to offer our local organic products for tasting and explain the technical rules that organic producers and processors have to follow.

The organic sector must regain its balance in its fundamentals and the values it has always conveyed AND it has to be indulgent and festive. I have every confidence in our DNA.

What advice can you give to businesses in the organic sector?

Who am I to give advice to anyone, and particularly to our entrepreneurs for whom have the greatest admiration?

However, if my optimism might be of any use, this is what I’d say; innovation is essential in the life of a company. The organic sector has always been innovative, and it’s even a source of creation that the traditional food market has become proficient in copying.

Judging by all the innovations you have presented and promoted at Natexpo since the exhibition was founded, we can fully appreciate the value and skills of our entrepreneurs.

Reinforce the promotion of our sector: it is obvious that coming together at events, whether they be regional or national, is essential for us to present our new propositions – here I could mention plant-based foods, “making it yourself”, compostable packaging, loose goods, reuse (both raw materials and packaging), substance-free products (nitrite, gluten and other allergens), solid cosmetics, and so on. And all the socially and environmentally conscious initiatives that our entrepreneurs lead: passive buildings, circular economy, CSR… All these innovations have acted as forerunners in both food habits and environmental practices.

So, I think it’s important to demonstrate the stability in our actions with these industry events and the confidence we have in our market through innovation.

You seem to be a born optimist, and you’re full of life: What’s your secret?

The organic market is all about the living world, and it’s a well-known saying that where there’s life, there’s hope.

I have every confidence in our organic food and drink. All the scientific studies prove it, all the environmental studies say so, too.

The unfortunate reality of climate change and the development of chronic illnesses have also regrettably proven us to be right.

So it’s up to us to be “all for one and one for all!”

Thank you Fanny, and see you soon at Natexpo!