Les Jardins de la Méditerranée/Imagine 84 is an association created in 2008 by the French Ministry of Health as part of the operation “5 fruits and vegetables per day”. It recovers unsold fruit and vegetables in order to redistribute them to food aid recipients.
“The merchandise comes from the entire fruit and vegetable sector, from both the French production and imports. This great diversity of products allows us to offer a varied selection of fruit and vegetables to the different charities. Last year, no less than 1,110 tons were distributed to 54 associations spread over 49 departments, which represents an average of 23 tons/week,” explains Nicolas Cabot, director of the association.
During the crisis last year, the association suspended its activity during the second week of the lockdown in March 2020 to start again at the end of April. “This time of closure allowed us to reorganize the entire site to impose new protection measures that required major work and the purchase of protective materials. The new sanitary protocol put in place since May 2020 has helped us work continuously to this day in order to meet the growing need of the partner charities.
A societal impact at different levels
The association ‘Les Jardins de la Méditerranée’ is recognized by the European Union as one of the best associations acting in favor of sustainable development. It fights against food waste, and also has a social impact with its Workshop for Insertion, as part of Insertion by Economic Activity (an initiative to help people enter the workforce again). Last year, 69% of its workers were employed or trained. “It may seem paradoxical, but it is during the pandemic year that we obtained our best exit rate with 69% of dynamic exits, which means that 13 out of 18 people found work or remunerative training.”
Additionally, the association employs more people than before, as it now has a state accreditation for 14 FTEs, which represents an average over the year of 22 employees hired at 26 hours/week from Monday to Thursday. "During the last 2 months of 2020 and the first 2 months of 2021, and to partly meet the demand of charities for fresh produce, we employed up to 30 people, which doubled the tonnage distributed each month."
A supply of at least 5 fruits and vegetables
Although the association is dependent on market supply, like other operators of the sector, it has managed to secure its offer thanks to regular suppliers helping it redistribute a wide range of fruit and vegetables to its associative partners. Access to seasonal products depends on the years and the market. “This year, 44.5% of the produce brought in were fruits (667 tons of mostly apples, pears, citrus fruits, grapes, and bananas) and 39.5% were vegetables (592 tons of mainly tomatoes, carrots, turnips, leeks, cabbage, and zucchini). We also had 16% of potatoes (240 tons).
The advantages as a supplier
The structures supplying the association benefit from a number of advantages. “Throwing products in the bin has a cost of more than €100/ton. A company that decides to give us their unsold merchandise saves not only this cost, but also benefits from an income or corporate tax reduction of 60% of the value of the product (CERFA 238 bis certificate of the CGI). Additionally, it is important to note that this act is part of Corporate Social Responsibility, allowing the donating structures to communicate their commitment and therefore improve their image.”
Besides, thanks to its network of partner transporters, Les Jardins de la Méditerranée benefits from a logistical force. With a simple phone call or email, it can recover products from anywhere in France, without any financial contribution from the supplier.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the entire sector (producers, shippers, wholesalers, and transporters) who have helped us continue, since 2009 and even more since last year, to serve and develop a significant offer for all the charities that wish to promote the distribution of fresh produce, including fruit and vegetables, to people dependent on food aid, in order to provide them with a varied and balanced diet. We count on you more than ever and hope for your generosity and solidarity to be passed on to many more companies. Don’t hesitate to spread the word: no more throwing away food in 2021!”
For more information:
A.C.I Les Jardins de la Méditerranée
M.I.N. – bâtiment P2 - 135 Av Pierre Sémard
84 000 Avignon
Phone: 04 13 41 61 32
Fax: 04 13 41 61 24
Mobile: 06 12 12 50 64