La Linea Verde invests €5 million in a salad bagging plant in Provence

success story
La Linea Verde invests €5 million in a salad bagging plant in Provence
Marie-Pierre Derouet, CEO France for La Ligne Verte
11 August 2021 / Food Industries, Grow your business, Start your business

First unit in France for the Italian group

La Linea Verde, a European leader in packaging salads, prepared meals and fresh soups that exports to the French market from Italy and Spain, has just invested €5 million in a plant in Sénas so it can market produce it grows in France. The plant has been running since October 2020 and is ramping up. It is the Italian group's eight facility and its first French site for bagging salads and raw vegetables. The goal is to triple total sales within five years.

The Italian group Linea Verde has chosen the Provençal farmland of Sénas to set up a salad production plant intended to supply the "greengrocer" shelves in French supermarkets. La Ligne Verte France was created in 2019 with an investment of €5 million to convert a former cheese packaging plant into a high-tech site to produce bagged salads and raw vegetables. "We chose Sénas, where escarole, frisée and baby vegetables are grown, and for its proximity to our Spanish and Italian plants, which have supplied the French market until now. Our group exports to 25 countries under private labels," points out Marie-Pierre Derouet, CEO France for La Ligne Verte.

Since October 2020, three salad production lines have been in full operation in the 5,000 m2 building. Over the course of washing, drying and packaging, the salads move through a temperature-controlled process between 1° and 4 °C.

30 additional employees

In less than a year, the company hired almost 50 local employees to sales and administrative functions, as well as maintenance, quality and production jobs. "We are still hiring around 30 people ‒ operators and line managers. We work with 'Pôle Emploi'. Our facility in France was delayed by the public health crisis, which forced us to manage certain operations remotely," explains Marie-Pierre Derouet, who divides her time between Milan and Provence.

After 20 years in Italy, she is rediscovering her homeland and getting to know the local ecosystem through her meetings with the economic development agency Provence Promotion. In December 2020, the plant obtained IFS certification, which was the key to being stocked by retailer brands (Franprix, Leader Price, Lidl and Intermarché). Positioned as an outsider in the fresh convenient packed salad market in France, La Ligne Verte intends to expand its presence and increase its volumes from 3,000 to 5,000 tonnes per year by adding a fourth production line in 2022. Already, some 30 distinct salad and raw vegetable products are shipped from the Sénas factory to supply all the regions of France.

Founded by Giuseppe and Domenico Battagliola, two sons of farmers from the province of Brescia, La Linea Verde will turn 30 in 2021. Total sales in 2020 reached €325 million, of which 30% from exports. The group has three plants in Italy, three in Spain, one in Serbia and now one in France.