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    • We had coffee with Marc Pagès, CEO of Interbev

    We had coffee with Marc Pagès, CEO of Interbev

    22 January 2020Par Madina Ehsan

    We discussed export, repositioning, modernization, success stories and also major meat trends & new challenges with Marc Pagès, Managing Director of Interbev.

    Can you describe INTERBEV’s missions and role in a few words?


    INTERBEV is the National Interprofessional Livestock and Meat Association, it was founded in 1979 on the initiative of organizations representing the sector which include breeding to distribution, including marketing and slaughter/processing. INTERBEV’s main missions are to implement regulatory tools and quality approaches (inter-professional agreements, specifications, guides, etc.) to support the players in the sector in the continuous improvement of their practices. It also deploys large-scale institutional and general public communication programs, with the objectives of promoting the sector, its professions and its people; to promote beef, veal, lamb, goat and horse meat and to re-establish truths where opinion is formed and where debate takes place.

    INTERBEV in 3 KPI ?

    500,000 professionals. The Livestock and Meat sector brings together a wide range of professions and know-how, from breeders to butchers, livestock traders, quality managers and meat processing operators.


    1st European country (EU 28). In terms of production, France is the country with the most suckler cows in the European herd (33%), ahead of Spain (16%), United Kingdom (12%) and Ireland (8%). France is the leading beef-producing country with 1.5 million tonnes. Source: 2018 figures – GEB – Institut de l’Elevage according to Eurostat.


    PACT for a Social Commitment. The Livestock and Meat sector was the first agri-food sector to federate and consolidate work around a real collective approach to long-term social responsibility by creating the PACTE for a Social Commitment. It is a continuous improvement approach structured by the ISO 26 000 standard and labelled by AFNOR “Confirmed CSR Commitment” level 3 out of 4.


    You have decided to create a new generic identity for French beef in Germany and Italy. What are the reasons for this change and what are the advantages ?

    The new generic communication in Germany and Italy enables us to promote the great diversity of the French offer to a BtoB target group. The slogan “Our passion, our commitment”, which supports this new communication, refers to the values that bring together all the links in the French beef sector. It is precisely thanks to the union and daily commitment of each professional in the sector that France can offer a quality product, adapted to the most varied requirements and recognised throughout the world. The communication elements developed revolve around three main themes – the quality of farming, the quality of processing and the quality of the final product. This umbrella campaign also supports “product brand” campaigns.


    You recently deployed a nice seduction operation with your Charoluxe brand in Germany. The brand underwent a repositioning and foodtrucks went out to meet consumers, can you tell us more about that ?

    At the beginning of 2019, we went to meet our main distributor clients (Globus, Edeka, Rewe) in order to better understand their expectations and identify their needs in terms of communication. The close collaboration that we have had for many years with our partner brands enables us to adapt our products and communication to best meet consumer expectations. Our objective was to reposition the brand, after 25 years of existence in Germany, so that the Charoluxe promise meets the new expectations of the consumer in terms of society and the environment: Charoluxe is THE Charolais meat brand whose specifications ensure transparency and superior quality. The new Charoluxe logo as well as the creative concept have been rethought to emphasize the origin and quality of the product, which takes root from the farm. This is why the key visual places a French breeder with his animals at liberty at the centre. He inspires confidence and becomes the spokesperson for the brand; through his testimony “Quality is cultivated from the pasture”.


    This year, we offered distributors a foodtruck operation aimed at reaching consumers as close as possible to the points of sale. This first campaign, organised in collaboration with Edeka Sudwest, was a great success: several thousand visitors tasted Charoluxe beef, which boosted sales in my region.


    How did you modernize and revitalize the Bovillage brand in Greece? Who are its ambassadors?

    We wanted to capitalize on the strong attachment of professionals to the brand with the aim of establishing our position as leader in this market and strengthening the capital of trust and sympathy created around Bovillage. According to our latest barometer, 94% of Greek professionals surveyed trust the brand and for 96% of them sayed that it is synonymous with quality. Ten years ago, the French industry committed itself to offering a superior quality product, while at the same time being at the service of local operators. Beyond these commitments, the Bovillage brand today conveys the notions of trust, regularity and exemplarity in the eyes of Greek professionals.

    To honor this trust, in 2019 Bovillage will have a new logo, a new graphic universe and the slogan “Bovillage, signature of quality. We honour your trust”.


    To reinforce this positioning, we have just recruited 10 butcher ambassadors who embody and carry the brand’s message through our various actions. On October 22nd, they received a “Bovillage Ambassador Certificate” from our French trainer, symbolizing their commitment and their role for the brand. The ambassadors’ words enable the brand to be present on social networks in an effective way thanks to the interactions between the community. The initial feedback from this operation has been very positive; the “ambassador” actions will continue in early December with a cutting and promotion contest for the pieces.


    You recently celebrated the anniversaries of Charoluxe and Bovillage, respectively 25 and 10 years old. What are the assets that make the success of these brands ?

    We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Charoluxe brand with our commercial partners on 7 October, on the fringe of Anuga. Charoluxe is indeed an example of the success of the French collective food brand in export. In my opinion, this success is due to several factors. First of all the adaptation of the product to the market: a quality Charolais-type meat attached to strict and controlled specifications. Secondly, a “win-win” relationship between the distributors who have made Charoluxe the product that differentiates their beef department and the French companies with a strong presence in the field. Finally, communication campaigns which, since the beginning of the brand’s history, have adapted to the country’s societal trends.


    For Bovillage in Greece, a brand that is also attached to a set of specifications, our companies have been able to develop close relationships with Greek professional wholesalers, agents and the network of traditional butchers (representing nearly 70% of the market). We have also invested in the last 10 years in the network of butchery schools by training many professionals in “French-style” cutting techniques and the product. Finally, Bovillage has always been as close as possible to the professionals by organising numerous meetings (presence at trade fairs, butcher competitions, training courses, VIP evenings, etc.).


    2019 marks the start of beef exports to China, and you have notably deployed a poster campaign for the importers’ fair in Shanghai. What are your ambitions for Asia ?

    The Chinese market is indeed a very important market for the French beef industry. According to forecasts, beef imports will grow substantially over the next five years and should reach between 1.8 and 2 million tons by 2024. For France, the eighth largest beef producer in the world, the attractiveness of the Chinese market is undeniable.

    After 17 years of embargo, the market has been open to France again since the summer of 2018. Five French companies are now approved to export to China and are doing their utmost to succeed on this market. At the same time, INTERBEV in collaboration with a research organisation under the Chinese Ministry of Food, has initiated a project to develop an exemplary traceability system, the first of its kind for meat in China.

    Thanks to a QR code affixed to the meat tray, consumers will be able to obtain real-time product traceability information (origin, breed, identification number, place and date of slaughter, etc.), as well as details on the French breeding model and recipe ideas.


    In your opinion, what are your top 3 international campaigns and why ?

    Concerning Europe and as mentioned before, the Charoluxe Germany and Bovillage Greece campaigns are campaigns that respond exactly to local demand.


    For third countries, we launched campaigns in 2017 to improve the reputation of French beef on the export market and increase our market share, particularly in Hong Kong, Japan, China and Israel. These campaigns, underpinned by the umbrella slogan “French Beef, a taste of terroirs”, are developed through targeted actions according to market needs (trade shows in China, festivals, training and social networks in Hong Kong, Chefs events in Japan, etc.). The coherence and unity of this communication based on gastronomy “French food is among the best in the world, its beef is no exception” allows an easy appropriation of the brand universe by our clients and an interesting takeover by foreign media.


    What are the major meat trends in France ?

    In recent years, overall meat consumption has stabilised. However, we observe disparities between household meat purchases for the home and meat consumption outside the home.


    Our eating habits are constantly evolving towards new expectations and practices that are characterised in different ways. In particular, we spend less time cooking and seek more convenience, which explains why meat consumption outside the home is growing (the rise of burgers or sandwiches for example). In addition, consumers are more concerned about their health, the impact of their purchases on the environment and also about animal welfare. However, the love affair between the French and meat persists: 91% of the French consume meat at least once a week for many reasons (taste, eating habits, quality of meat for health …). Meat-free diets are still a minority and only 3% of the population is vegetarian (1% vegan). Nevertheless, the French are always looking to consume better and to privilege quality meat. The trend towards flexitarianism has thus been developing for several years among a large public who continue to eat everything, in a reasoned manner, while favouring the quality of the products they love.


    For INTERBEV, the flexitarian is a consumer who seeks a certain reassurance, both on the origin of the meat he buys, the effects on his health and sustainability, with the desire to eat a balanced and diversified diet. This is why, in February 2019, the sector and all its professionals launched its new communication campaign “Love meat, eat better. “signed “Naturally flexitarian”. A contemporary campaign that speaks to many of us!


    What are your next challenges ?

    In France, we are going to continue to explain that meat has its place in a balanced diet, if it is eaten sensibly and comes from a responsible and sustainable industry. To do this, we will communicate, of course, but we will also act by continuing our constant efforts to make progress, based on the Pact for Social Commitment. In 2020, we are going to demonstrate this with the asserted development of Label Rouge Beef Meat, which must become the reference for the consumer.


    At the European level, we wish to consolidate our leading positions in our 3 priority countries (Italy, Germany, Greece) in a difficult context of increased competition and falling meat consumption.


    For third countries, our ambition is to become an important partner for the Chinese market. Our companies are ready and our products adapted to market expectations; we are doing everything possible to make this outlet a priority and a success.


    To go further :

    • Bovillage :
    • Charoluxe :
    • French beef in Germany :
    • French beef in Italy :