In Marseilles, Mo’Rice is producing stirred yogurt made from Camargue rice

success story
In Marseilles, Mo’Rice is producing stirred yogurt made from Camargue rice
Jean-Christophe Bernard - Mo'Rice's founder
21 November 2017 / Food Industries, Start your business

During their entrepreneurial adventure, they crossed paths with Provence Promotion

With grains of rice and a touch of eccentricity and humor, Mo’Rice—which stands for Marseille Original Rice—is the smart name given to vegan and organic desserts produced north of the city. The three partners started marketing their desserts made with Camargue rice at the end of October. Their products are just as creamy as a classic yogurt, but without the dairy products. During their entrepreneurial adventure, they crossed paths with Provence Promotion, which opened doors to possible sources of funding and places to set up shop. The young team settled in Caburateur, the entrepreneurial hub to the north of the city, which was inaugurated at the end of 2016.

What does Mo’Rice, with its typically French name, actually produce? Desserts made with rice, which are just as creamy as Greek yogurt. With its chocolate mousse and natural, lemon, strawberry, coconut, vanilla, apricot-flavored stirred yogurts, Mo’Rice has concocted recipes to treat vegetarians, vegans and other flexitarians to delicious desserts.

The team, made up of graduates from Toulouse and Rennes universities, have set out to conquer a niche market with high growth potential. According to their analyses, France—which already counts 5% vegetarians—should see its share of vegan consumers rise from 2 to 8%.

“The choice of desserts available to vegans is very limited. Desserts based on soy are not particularly appetizing and not recommended for children; and let’s not get started on their high sugar content and huge quantities of all kinds of food additives!” explained Jean-Christophe Bernard.

With 13 years of experience in the agri-food industry under his belt, including seven years working for Danone, Jean-Christophe, a Frenchman in his thirties, decided to channel his entrepreneurial spirit into launching a fully natural, organic and healthy project. He set off on this adventure with his life partner Chloé Ballester, who is in charge of marketing, and his lifelong friend Damien Merygnac.

Supported in his quest for healthy food

A healthy eater by nature, Jean-Christophe Bernard roamed across France to find out more. His encounter with Christophe Favrot, who invented a process for making fermented desserts based on organic rice in Brittany, was a pivotal moment for him. “Mixed with water, whole grains are crushed, pasteurized and fermented.  The product’s creamy texture results from the interaction between fermenting agents and starch,” said Jean-Christophe Bernard.

Keen to set up his business in Marseille, at first he found it difficult to identify a suitable small agri-food laboratory. His Internet search brought him in touch with Provence Promotion. “I was faced with two obstacles: obtaining funding and finding premises,” he explained. The economic development agency recommended the Carburateur, an incubator for businesses from Cabucelle, which provides offices for start-ups and 25 m²-workshops.
He fell for the place as soon as he first stepped through the door last May.  “We work in close proximity to a large number of entrepreneurs who give us valuable advice. Another advantage is that the premises are flexible,” highlighted Jean-Christophe Bernard.

From taste innovation to production

On 2 November, Mo’Rice made its first delivery to Ma terre, a grocery store in Aix-en-Provence. By chance, this was also the day on which Jean-Luc Chauvin, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Marseille-Provence and President of Provence Promotion, was visiting the Carburateur.

The company aims to reach full production, i.e. two tons a month, in under a year. The next step of the adventure will take place elsewhere, through a subcontracting agreement with a producer or by investing in a factory.
Mo’Rice desserts of plant origin are already available in the region’s best dairy shops (Biocoop Endoume and Castellane, La Vie Claire, Juicery Factory, La Bonne Epicerie in Vauban and Les Pissenlits). The company aspires to be noticed by a central purchasing body and to collaborate with a national distributor.