Lockdown measures linked to the Coronavirus crisis have caused both the over-supply of fresh produce and shutdown of certain food banks. Phenix, a specialist in redistributing unsold goods since 2014, has mobilised its network to provide solutions and respond to the crisis. Clément Carreau, head of the start-up’s public relations, explains more.
Phenix is a social enterprise set up to combat food waste. How do you do this?
Clément Carreau : We are an intermediary between large distributors, wholesalers, producers and food aid associations. We’ve set up a virtuous circle in which everyone is a winner: distributors can reduce their losses and associations can recover food and non-food products. We’ve also developed an app so that retailers can offer their unsold products (and in particular products not eligible for donation such as freshly prepared meals) directly to individuals. We are the only player to address the entire value chain and everyone can participate at their own level to reduce waste. What’s more, we’re planning to go further in our ambition! Phenix (opens in a new window) is now established in Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal.
What emergency situation did you face when the lockdown measures related to the Coronavirus crisis came into force?
Clément Carreau : Many volunteers working for nonprofits suddenly found they were unable to continue their activity. By domino effect, some companies were therefore cut off from these associations they usually work with at the same time as when their stocks of fresh produce were increasing due to the closure of restaurants and staff canteens etc. Wholesalers and caterers launched calls for help on social media, which were sent on to us. Some companies have also contacted us directly.
How are your solution and organisation adapted to react quickly?
Clément Carreau : We have an excellent knowledge of the sector and a well-built territorial network, with 27 regional branches. From a technical point of view, our database gives us business intelligence about our 1,300 partner associations, their needs, their opening days… This platform allows us to react quickly and find a solution for a food company in less than 24 hours.
Will this crisis change your business activity?
Clément Carreau : People have only recently become aware of food waste. With COVID-19, waste made the headlines. This may initiate better consumer and distributor practices in the future. We only hope that CSR issues won’t be cast aside when companies start their business recovery.
Orange and Phenix, reviewing a fruitful collaboration
“We have used a range of Orange Business Services solutions for our corporate telephony and internet,” says Clément Carreau. “Orange has also contributed to greater visibility and enhancements when it comes to our anti-waste solutions, in particular through co-producing a TV programme on M6 which really helped us promote our brand and services to the general public.”