In mid-June, farmers from the national Federation of trade unions of agricultural operators (FNSEA) blocked refineries and fuel depots. In question : the competition of the palm oil on the market of biofuels. The next opening of the Total refinery of Mede (Bouches-du-Rhône), using detonator and to the discontent. Behind these transactions in anticipation of, the interests of April, ex-Sofiprotéol, arm of the industry rapeseed and powerful actor of industrial agriculture in France. A group discreet, but with brands such as Lesieur, Puget, or Matins are known to the general public.
Indeed, the group in April passes through an area of strong turbulence, related to his difficulties on the market of biofuels. “This has been the biggest black spot of our business by 2017,” confirms Jean-Philippe Puig, the manager. To the point that the accounts have turned red for the second year in a row. In 2017, the company has recorded a loss of 56 million euros compared with 51 million euros a year earlier. Even though the turnover increased by 6 % to 6.2 billion euros, driven by higher raw material costs.
The atmosphere is not the most serene in the factories of the subsidiary Saipol, which specializes in biofuels. Already shaken by the explosion on the site of Dieppe, which has caused the death of two employees of a subcontractor, in February 2018, the employees are in technical unemployment since march. “In march and April, the plants ran at half of their capacity,” said Mr. Puig, who will request a six-month extension of the measures of technical unemployment.
Resorting to imports
April took the brunt of the competition from biofuels made from palm oil, but also soybean. “In September 2017, Europe has lifted the barriers on biodiesel and argentinian soy-based. Argentina has exported 250 000 tons per month since then, which is the equivalent of the ability…