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Press release Colruyt Group - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Colruyt Group and partners pioneer organic soy growing in Belgium

The partners are organic farmer Simon Colembie, La vie est belle, Colruyt Group, ILVO and Inagro. Together they have started an innovative production concept for locally-grown organic soy.
Halle, October 17, 2018 - Colruyt Group joined forces with farmer Simon Colembie from Kruishoutem and the Bruges vegetarian food company “La vie est belle” to pioneer locally grown organic soy. Knowledge centers ILVO and Inagro helped by investigating the potential of growing soy in Belgium. The future looks bright. Colembie harvested an acre of organic soy for the first time this year, with a yield around 2.5 tons of soybeans. The soy is then processed by La vie est belle into two soy burgers and two soy spreads. Starting in the first half of next year, these will be on the shelves at Bio-Planet, Colruyt Group's organic supermarket.

Three local players

From the field to the supermarket, the organic soy from Mr Colembie will not have to travel far. After harvest in Kruishoutem, the more than 2.5 tons of soy beans will go to La vie est belle, a producer of vegetarian products in Bruges. They will process them in two soy burgers and two soy spreads. La vie est belle has been a Bio-Planet supplier for many years. The 4 new products will therefore be on the shelves of the Colruyt Group's organic supermarket next year.

"At Colruyt Group we work continuously to make our products more sustainable in terms of health, the environment, animal welfare and society," says Stefan Goethaert, general manager of Colruyt Group Fine Food. "For the past 4 years, we have been part of a research project on the sustainability of soy, where the feasibility of local, Belgian soy cultivation was central. We are therefore delighted that soy has successfully been grown in Belgium today, and we are proud of our contribution to this. Our ambition is to bring 4 products with Belgian soy to the market next year, so that our customers can get to know this sustainable and local food source."

Challenges of Belgian soya cultivation

Farmer Simon Colembie, La vie est belle and Colruyt Group work together on this innovative project in full confidence. Because soy has mainly been an import product, they can count on the support of knowledge institutions ILVO (Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) and Inagro (Extension Center for Research and Advice on Agriculture and Horticulture). They have been investigating the potential of growing Belgian soy for several years.

According to Johan Van Waes, Scientific Director of Crop Husbandry at ILVO, the potential is certain: "Belgian soy is still a learning process that involves searching and discovering what works. Which soy varieties grow best here? When do you sow? When do you harvest? What is the effect of nitrogen-oxidizing bacteria? That is why we have also sown 1 hectare with 2 different soya varieties. For example, we want to investigate the effect of the various plant and soil treatments on the soybean yields. We are obviously learning a lot and are already sharing this knowledge with (future) soy farmers."

Inagro also closely follows Belgian soy cultivation. "The soy plants have done particularly well in the past warm, dry summer. According to us, this will certainly open up future prospects," says Bram Vervisch, soy researcher at Inagro.

More sustainable, local product

In addition to soy, organic farmer Simon Colembie also grows wheat, spelt, potatoes, green beans, grain maize, grass clover and fodder beet. "I was immediately convinced about growing Belgian soy because it gives me an extra crop to rotate. This is not only good for my bank account but also for soil quality." Agricultural land in Belgium often suffers from large-scale plantations, because the same crops are always grown. Soy extracts nitrogen from the air, and just makes the soil richer. And the farmer has to apply less fertilizer.

Another advantage of Belgian, local cultivation is that it reduces the need for soy from North and South America. That means less transport and therefore a more sustainable product. A decisive argument for producer La vie est belle: "Despite our large veggie assortment, we consciously did not have any soy products. We prefer to work with local products, and until now that was impossible for soy. We are currently looking, together with Bio-Planet, on how we can best present soy-based products."

More info?

For more information or visual material, please contact the press service of Colruyt Group on 0473 / 92.45.10 or via press@colruytgroup.com

About Colruyt Group

Colruyt Group is active in the distribution of food and non-food in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, with some 550 stores of their own and more than 580 affiliates. In Belgium, the group is comprised of Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, apart from Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated stores of Coccinelle, CocciMarket and Panier Sympa. The group is also active in the food service business (delivery of food products to hospitals, company kitchens and catering establishments) in Belgium (Solucious). Other activities include the distribution of fuels in Belgium (DATS 24), print and document management solutions (Symeta) and production of green energy. The group employs more than 29,300 people and achieved a turnover of € 9.0 billion in 2017/18. Colruyt is listed on Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN no. BE0974256852.

About ILVO

ILVO stands for Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The central mission of this Flemish scientific institution is to help make agriculture, fisheries and food processing in Flanders more sustainable and economically sustainable. Every day, more than 600 people work to support policymakers, companies, stakeholders and society with applied research and related services. Interesting for the food sector is the Food Pilot (a collaboration with Flanders’ FOOD), a pilot food processing plant with a wide range of semi-industrial appliances, several labs and many years of nutritional (technological) expertise. For its plant and animal agricultural research, ILVO has, among others, 200 hectares of experimental fields (part of which under organic cultivation), greenhouses, and a complete experimental farm. The economic and social systems within and around the agrifood chain are also studied. More on www.ilvo.vlaanderen.be

About Inagro

Inagro (Extension Center for Research and Advice in Agriculture and Horticulture) aims to find solutions for the current problems and bottlenecks in the agricultural and horticultural sector. Innovation, diversification and sustainability are key words for Inagro's practice-oriented research. With tailor-made advice, information and personal guidance, Inagro helps farmers in the management of their company and translating innovations into practice. The research center has a total of 34 hectares of experimental surface area. Thirteen hectares of these are under organic crop management at the Extension Center for Organic Agriculture. Inagro has both feet on the field. Some 200 staff members work every day on practical research and advice.

About La vie est belle

La vie est belle was founded in 1992 by business managers Stefaan Deraeve and Katrien Steeman. A producer of vegetarian and organic products from Bruges, it has now grown into a small SME with 25 employees. La vie est belle builds on a future where food is the result of healthy raw materials and innovative creativity. A respectful relationship with our partners forms the basis of mutual inspiration. More on www.lavieestbelle.be