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Phenix: ending waste together

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In 2014, Jean Moreau was involved in investment banking, having, as he puts it, “…far from a positive impact. I felt the need to switch to become a change-maker and set up a business compatible with positive impact on the climate.”

With this in mind, Jean set up Phenix, a Tech For Good enterprise based in Paris that aims to give food waste a second life. “The amount of food we throw away in France could feed about 10 million people,” explains Jean. “And each time we throw away food, CO2 has been emitted for…nothing. One third of all the food produced on the planet is actually thrown out.”

To improve things, Phenix offers a digital solution that matches the offer of near-to-expiration food to the demand from NGOs and charities. “We focus mainly on fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish that is typically taken off the shelves 3 or 4 days before expiration. This food, that would otherwise be burned, get a new lease of life, bought up at a discount. Everyone wins. Including the climate,” he says.

Initially the business focussed on the interface between consumers (C2C): organising dinner and then giving away left-overs from the fridge, or before going on holidays. With time, the focus shifted to B2B work, setting up a digital marketplace matching offer with demand, retailers with charities. “We then plugged in a B2C solution for consumers: a mobile app so that any citizen can click and collect products at a 50-60% discount. And more recently we added a third channel: animal feeding, whereby fruit, vegetables or old bread can be sold to farms or zoos.”

“Today we’ve achieved zero bio-waste in a couple of major supermarkets in France. It avoids costs but also generates additional revenues or tax credit, and saves tonnes of food, turning a cost-centre into a profit centre. Since 2014, we have saved 70 million meals. Each day we save 120,000 meals in France alone.”

In October 2018, Phenix received an equity investment from ETF Partners, a venture capital firm backed by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. “ETF are very focussed on greentech and cleantech. They were the right type of investors for us – our missions were completely aligned. We didn’t want generalist VC players,” explains Jean. The company is now ready to take the next step and expand outside of France, Portugal and Spain, to the UK, Italy and Germany. Furthermore, they are looking at expanding outside the retail sector, to work more closely with farmers and industrials, so that they can ‘catch the waste’ not only in shops, but at the level of factories and farms, up the value chain.

“When we throw something out, it’s only because we haven’t yet discovered its purpose…”

Company: Phenix (France)

Type of business: environment; food

Financial intermediary: ETF Partners

EIF financing: RCR mandate and own resources, EFSI sub-window 1

For further information about EIF intermediaries in France, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/fr/index.htm

 

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