The imposing box has occupied a parking space in the supermarket since the end of November. On its sides, the red and blue colors catch the eyes of customers. This message too: “Bulk is cheaper than bagged”. In Lamballe, in the Côtes-d’Armor, a distributor of kibbles for animals has been installed in the parking lot of the Leclerc supermarket. Customers can come and buy food for their dogs, cats or chickens, 24/7. A first in France, according to its manufacturer. The only imperative for buyers: that they bring their bag or their box to receive the croquettes. In return, they can buy the product almost 25% cheaper than in stores.
The idea of this distributor germinated in the minds of the leaders of Asserva several years ago. This Lamballe company specializing in the automation of pig farm buildings is a pioneer in bulk. Problem: it only manages it in huge agricultural silos installed on farms. “Bulk is our daily life in agriculture. We work without any packaging from the manufacturer, who produces the food, to the animal,” explains Frédéric Billon. Asserva’s industrial development manager looked into the possibility of adapting this solution to the individual market. It’s not easy to manage the daily needs of Oscar or Chaminou when you’re used to managing deliveries by the ton to farms. “We anticipate the evolution of the legislation. Soon, individuals will have to pay for the waste they produce. Bulk is a growing market,” recognizes Frédéric Billon. He promotes “real” zero waste. And not unpacking, which consists of offering bulk products removed from their packaging.
Installed since the end of November, the vending machine is slowly finding its bearings. A few years ago, Asserva had already tried it with a pellet dispenser for wood stoves in the same car park. “It didn’t work very well because it wasn’t cheaper than in stores,” explains the manager of the Leclerc shopping center. For Franck Pringault, one of the only ways to attract customers to bulk is to offer it at a lower price. “With croquettes, it’s really cheaper (between 18 and 25% less than on the shelves) so it attracts. And it also responds to a request from certain consumers to limit their packaging and to have access every day, even when the store is closed, ”says the director of Leclerc. The animal feed is produced under the Excellians brand, a “premium” product from the Sopral company, based in Pléchatel, south of Rennes.
To develop its concept called Vraco, the Asserva company is betting on its “zero packaging” promise, from the silos of the kibble manufacturer Sopral to the container placed in the parking lot of the shopping center. A promise that the company develops with multiple products: “We have a lot of calls. We have already started discussions on the world of the garden, DIY. Some want to put cash in it. We are not going to stop at the distribution of kibbles”, promises the industrial development manager of Asserva. The price of the box, installation included, is estimated at around €40,000.
Two distributors will soon be installed in front of an Intermarché in Pontivy (Morbihan) and a manufacturer of wood stoves in Hillion (Côtes-d’Armor). And more will come soon.