AFYREN and Südzucker have reached an unprecedented long-term agreement on the supply of sugar beet co-products as feedstock for AFYREN NEOXY, the zero-waste, low-carbon biorefinery that will begin producing seven 100% biobased organic acids at industrial scale in early 2022.
The partnership is in accordance with both companies’ sustainability strategies. Using these co-products to produce bio-based organic acids provides a high level of revalorization and does not affect the food chain.
Südzucker, the No. 1 European sugar producer and a leading company in the global food industry, will provide the biorefinery’s supply of sugar beet co-products. The agreement to upcycle these co-products into high-value chemicals that are usually made from petroleum derivatives fits into its commitment to conduct business in a manner that utilizes resources sustainably and the aim of Südzucker to be climate neutral by 2050.
“We align our actions in terms of sustainability across the entire value chain — from the agricultural raw material to the finished products and co-products,” said Michael Schäfer, chief market analyst at Südzucker’s sugar and co-product division. “Customer requirements evolve, and we meet them with innovation and by diversifying our product portfolio across diverse geographic regions and markets.”
For AFYREN, the signing of this multi-year contract marks a major milestone in its business plan. With multiple sugar plants in areas surrounding the AFYREN NEOXY plant in Carling-Saint-Avold, near the French-German border, Südzucker can guarantee supply of this feedstock, allowing AFYREN to focus on its other business goals.
“We’re very pleased with this agreement,” said Nicolas Sordet, CEO of AFYREN. “Getting a long-term deal with an industry leader like Südzucker validates our project and moves it a big step forward. Now we have a guaranteed supply of key feedstock — and an efficient supply chain.”
This partnership is also a major step for the ambitious multi-stakeholder project AFTER-BIOCHEM, led by AFYREN, which aims to make a broad contribution to the development of a strong bioeconomy sector in Europe and turn sustainably sourced non-food biomass into multiple high added-value products.
Südzucker, with its sugar, special products, CropEnergies and fruit segments, is one of the most significant food industry companies. In the traditional sugar business, the group is Europe’s number one supplier of sugar products, with 23 sugar factories and two refineries, extending from France in the west via Belgium, Germany and Austria, through to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bosnia, and Moldova in the east. The special products segment, consisting of the functional food ingredients for food and animal feed (BENEO) division, as well as chilled/frozen products (Freiberger), starch and portion packs (PortionPack Europe) divisions, conducts business in high-growth dynamic markets. The CropEnergies segment is responsible for the ethanol activities in Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain. The group’s fruit segment operates globally, is the world market leader for fruit preparations and is a leading supplier of fruit juice concentrates in Europe.
In 2019/20, the group employed about 19,200 persons and generated revenues of EUR 6.7 billion.
To meet a growing need among industries to reduce the use of petroleum derivatives in their production chain, AFYREN makes biomolecules derived from the reuse of non-food biomass. These ingredients are widely used in human and animal nutrition, flavors and fragrances, cosmetics, and fine chemicals. This production of renewable carbon, which is firmly grounded in the circular economy, uses fermentation technologies that are the result of 10 years of research and are patented worldwide. Founded in 2012 and led by Nicolas Sordet and Jérémy Pessiot, AFYREN has about 35 employees at its sites in Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand and Carling – Saint Avold, France. AFYREN is a winner of the Concours Mondial d’Innovation 2030 in the “Plant proteins and plant chemistry” category and was included in the French Tech 120 in 2020 and 2021. In 2018, AFYREN committed to its industrial project by creating the AFYREN NEOXY joint venture with Bpifrance’s SPI fund. The AFYREN NEOXY factory will be a pioneer in the industrial-scale production of natural organic acids.