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Vive la revolution! The man making French food ethical


Claude Gruffat is on a mission to turn make French food ethical and sustainable.

He is president of the organic grocery network, Biocoop, which has 330 shops that sell around 6,000 products. Biocoop employs over 3,000 people and boasts a turnover of 460m euros. But what makes it special is what Gruffat calls its “activist” approach. Bio-coop brings farmers and shop owners together to give consumers excellent, good-value products without compromising the environment.

They are currently developing a carbon footprint calculation that tracks a product’s life from production to purchase. Gruffat wants consumers to make informed choices and make information about what they eat as clear to them as possible.

The child of farmers in France’s Haute Savoie region, Gruffat was working as a farm modernisation consultant when he realised he needed to do something about the difficulties facing farmers. He saw family farms that had thrived for generations being forced to close because of bad business models.

In 1994 he joined Biocoop, a network of cooperatives started in the late 1970s by consumers and producers committed to ethical production and consumption of organic produce.

As yet there are no plans to move to England but hopefully the success of Biocoop will inspire similar movements on this side of the channel.

Photo courtesy of Pierre-Alain Dorange

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