French potato crisp producer slashes water usage with second ‘green’ factory

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

An impression of Altho Brets’ planned new production site. Pic: Altho Brets
An impression of Altho Brets’ planned new production site. Pic: Altho Brets

Related tags Altho Brets AGH France Potato chips

The €100m investment in a second facility at its Brittany site will enable Altho Brets to reduce its water consumption by almost a litre of water per kilogramme of potato chips.

Food plays a huge role in French culture, so one of the unwritten ‘rules’ is the French consumer seldom snacks between meals, evident in the huge discrepancy between the snack market worth in the US ($110bn) vs France ($7.11bn) in 2023.

However, there is still a passion for potato chips in France, with sales growing by 4.246% between 2016 to 2021 to €573.20m, according to GlobalData.

To meet this demand, Altho Brets is investing €100m ($107.7m) in a second production facility to increase capacity by 15,000 tonnes per year.

Construction will start in the second half of 2024, with production expected to begin by the end of 2025.

Green plant

Brets

The plant - located next door to its existing factory in Pontivy Communauté in Brittany – will be equipped with state-of-the-art automation (both in terms of production and logistics), while the existing facility, which was built in 1995, will be given an upgrade.

Water usage, for example, will be slashed from 3 litres per kilogramme of potatoes in 2021 to under 2.1 litres.

The new facility will also see the company increasing its partner farmer network. Brets chips are made from 100% French potatoes, currently sourced from 250 farmers in Breton. Altho aims to increase this network by 150 new partnerships for its second factory.

Furthermore, the biowaste from both sites will be recycled to produce biogas and digestate, which will be fed back into the soil by the farmers. Digestate is a nutrient-rich substance produced by anaerobic digestion that can be used as a fertiliser.

Laurent Cavard, CEO of Altho Brets, said the creation of the new facility will create “more than 40 jobs,”​ on top of the current 340-strong workforce at Pontivy.

Altho makes crisps for supermarket private labels as well as under its own Bret’s brand. The company is a subsidiary of AGH, a holding company owned by French entrepreneur Alain Glon that operators in the food, energy and packaging sectors that posted a turnover of €206m in 2022.

Altho also has a production site in Ardèche and one in Portugal.

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