Santafoo is revolutionizing online grocery shopping with their environmentally responsible approach

success story
Santafoo is revolutionizing online grocery shopping with their environmentally responsible approach
The “saints” of taste. Santafoo’s founders and partners (from left to right): Wassim Bassil, Laurent Salet, and Bruno Lagrèze.
09 August 2023 / Digital Economy, Food Industries

72% of all products come from local producers and distributors

Santafoo is offering an innovative solution for buying fresh, local produce online. The company was created in Marseille in September 2021 by two co-founders, Laurent Salet, who is originally from Pau, and Wassim Bassil, the CEO of Interesting Times, a digital communications agency started in Lebanon that temporarily established in Marseille after the explosion at the port of Beirut. Santafoo is committed to transforming consumer habits by facilitating access to quality products and the company’s carefully curated range of items emphasizes local distribution channels, organic or sustainable farming, and French production, all at fair prices for producers and consumers alike. Supported by Provence Promotion from the outset, in October 2023 Santafoo will expand operations to Aix-en-Provence.

With 90% of Bouches-du-Rhône’s agricultural production destined for export and 90% of products consumed in the Bouches-du-Rhône imported, Santafoo CEO Laurent Salet’s objective is clear: to show it is possible to reverse this trend.

Santafoo is proud that 90% of the fruit and vegetables it sells are sourced within 200 kilometers of Marseille, while 72% of all its products come from local providers and distributors. This approach aims to minimize the carbon footprint associated with the transportation of goods and to promote local production.

An environmental model that embraces social responsibility

Customers benefit from complete product traceability thanks to the information provided by producers, farmers, or retailers. This requirement for transparency meets the growing demand from consumers for precise details about the origin and quality of products.

Santafoo promotes both sustainable practices and a positive social impact. Deliveries are made exclusively via sustainable means of transport, such as electric scooters and bicycles, and instead of resorting to the gig economy, the company hires delivery drivers on permanent contracts to give them financial stability. Because of its environmental and social commitments, in June 2023, Santafoo won the environmental sustainability prize at the Trophies for Positive Entrepreneurs awards ceremony organized by the CPME 13 business association.

But Santafoo’s main aim is to win the taste award from its customers! Each product undergoes meticulous testing and evaluation by a team of taste “saints” composed of staff members and a panel of customers who are invited to sample new items. Santafoo currently offers 1000 products and works with almost 80 local partners. It organizes its stock into 15 categories of fresh food, dry goods, hygiene products, and household items, while it also offers a special “good deals” category to limit food waste!

Marseille, the pilot city for the launch of the app

“Downtown Marseille was a great test area. We wanted to tackle a large city with a diverse range of agricultural production, and we weren’t disappointed. We found some amazing local produce such as limes, and we have a source for ginger!” says Laurent Salet, who received early-stage business support from Provence Promotion.

“Provence Promotion introduced us to a whole network of public sector stakeholders. We were made to feel very welcome, and we were able to benefit from excellent visibility, which helped us to progress more rapidly,” recounts Laurent Salet, who along with Wassim Bassil received the Invest in Provence award in November 2021 for their activities in the Aix-Marseille metro area.

Success of the Marseille project and plans for expansion

To fine-tune the app, Laurent Salet and Wassim Bassil, who were later joined by Bruno Lagrèze, took into account customer feedback following the launch of a beta version in December 2021. Six months later, in June 2022, the application was officially deployed and met with immediate success! In just one year, Santafoo recorded over 7000 orders from 1500 customers, with an average basket of around €60.

“We’ve passed the €50 000 mark in monthly sales with steady growth of +15%,” notes Laurent Salet. Building on this success in Marseille, Santafoo plans to extend its model to other areas. Starting in October 2023, the app will also be available to residents of Aix-en-Provence. Thereafter, the company plans to expand to Toulouse in southwest France, which is where he lives and where his company is registered.

Santafood’s current team consists of eight people, including three delivery drivers and two order pickers. Five new jobs will be created by the end of the year, and in the medium term, the need to find a warehouse on the outskirts of Marseille will become more pressing.

“We have invested significantly in this project with €1.7 million in financing,” explains Laurent Salet, who obtained a €300 000 loan from the Bpifrance public investment bank. He adds: “Our ambition is to accelerate our development, and we are planning to raise more funds in the near future.”

This is not Laurent Salet’s first innovative business project. In 2005, he created the Eurocycleur kiosks for transforming loose change into vouchers, which he sold to the American company Coinstar.