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SIL (Société Industrielle Lesaffre) : the world’s largest yeast factory

The Marcq-en-Barœul plant in northern France was the birthplace of the group. Opened in 1968, it’s the largest yeast production facility in the world. Société Industrielle Lesaffre (SIL) is the group’s spearhead facility for fermentation expertise. It employs some 500 people. The site is at the leading edge of manufacturing technology and produces dry yeast, mainly for export markets. Its products are sold in over 100 countries. They are used for:

  • Bread-making
  • Nutrition for human, animal and plant health
  • Fermented drinks
  • Biofuels

Société Industrielle Lesaffre (SIL): skill and expertise backed by a leading-edge, high-performance manufacturing facility

Yeast is a living single-celled fungus. When sugar is added to it in the presence of air, it multiplies. After successive multiplications, a few grams of mother cells will yield several tons of yeast.

Yeast manufacturing uses mainly the following raw materials:

  • Beet and sugar-cane molasses from the sugar industry. These fermentation substrates are transported on trucks and barges.
  • Other nutrients, such as sources of nitrogen and phosphorus, minerals and trace elements, vitamins, water and air.

The yeast is then dried, packaged, stored and shipped.

The fermentation and drying processes are complex; nothing can be left to chance. Checks on this living organism are particularly stringent during the various steps of production.

SIL produces four types of dry yeast:

Each product is designed and manufactured with a specific goal for a specific application.

Stringent and unique manufacturing techniques to meet quality standards 

Lesaffre’s unique manufacturing expertise originated at SIL, and then expanded to all of the group’s production facilities.

Every Lesaffre plant produces yeast with the same high level of excellence by means of the following complex techniques:

1- The laboratory phase

2- The manufacturing phase:

  • Pre-fermentation
  • Fermentation
  • Separation
  • Drying

3- Packagingyeast-productionThe plant is subject to strict hygiene regulations and complies with stringent quality and safety standards. SIL is certified according to several reference bases that cover all its products, in order to meet market needs for human and animal foodstuffs.

  • Yeast for human nutrition has been FSSC 22000-certified since 2016 to meet the requirements of its manufacturing and distributor customers.
  • Yeast for animal feed is certified to FAMI-QS and GMP+B3.
  • Vinasses, which are by-products in yeast production for animal feed, are GMP+B2-certified. This is a “chain” certification, whereby each participant must be certified in order for the product to be incorporated.

In addition to “food safety”-related certifications, SIL holds other certificates and seals of approval.

  • All products manufactured at SIL are certified Halal. The certification covers the product’s intrinsic properties, production, packaging and marketing. The Halal certification is renewed annually.
  • In regards to customs, Société Industrielle Lesaffre holds an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) “Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety” certificate since 2010. This status is granted by customs authorities to the most reliable international trade operators who meet a number of criteria, e.g. customs compliance, effective and traceable record keeping, financial solvency, and appropriate safety and security measures.

AEO certification is recognized in all 28 EU Member States and in some other countries such as Switzerland, Japan, the USA and China. It enables the use of simpler formalities and streamlined customs checks.

An environmentally friendly yeast production business

SIL’s yeast production facility is located in an urban area. As such, SIL pays particular attention to preserving the environment and reducing the impact of its activities on the surrounding areas.

  • SIL has acquired scientific expertise in treating wastewater and reusing derivative products

The portion of raw materials not used in yeast production is turned into animal feed (Viprotal) or soil fertilization (Vinasses) products.

Since 2004, SIL has been treating wastewater in its own treatment plant and discharging the purified water into the environment.

  • SIL optimizes its water consumption to preserve this resource

Water plays an important part in yeast production. It is used in preparing the growing medium, cleaning and disinfecting the equipment, as well as for producing steam. “Clean-In-Place” systems that recover cleaning and disinfectant solutions have made it possible to reduce consumption.

The ratio of well water used per ton of fresh yeast has fallen by more than 20% since 2002.

  • SIL is improving energy efficiency to keep its competitive edge, as well as reducing its ecological footprint

Significant investments are made to recover lost calories and reinject them into the production chain, leading to reduced natural gas consumption and CO2 emissions.

  • SIL reduces smells

Automating and adapting the frequency of equipment cleaning, regular maintenance of wastewater collection systems, monitoring the watertightness of filters, and improving the running order of procedures are all used to reduce odor emissions.

  • SIL reduces noise pollution

Soundproofing equipment, acoustic insulation, an anti-noise wall and installing silencers all help to reduce noise around the property. All new equipment is subject to an acoustic study before installation.

Lastly, applying best practices for running the equipment and arranging working hours help make these provisions complete.

  • SIL favors river transportation

Using river transportation is an environmentally friendly alternative to road transportation. Although it may be somewhat more complicated, SIL does its utmost to increase the proportion of barge transportation in shipping raw materials.

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