raising life since 1853

Lesaffre is a living organism. Its past counts just as much as its future. What has been achieved so far exists only for the promises it holds for the coming years. We are cultivating our company in the same way that we cultivate our strains of yeast; with the same care, the same high standards, the same desire to test everything, to create new possibilities, and to obtain the best product.

For over 170 years, we have grown by remaining faithful to the vision of our founders and by building on that vision, generation after generation, and appreciating everything that our company’s history has brought us: the talented people we have recruited, the partnerships we have created, the discoveries we have made, and the markets we have developed.

The Lesaffre history

Our company was built around the friendship between Louis Lesaffre and Louis Bonduelle. In 1853, the two men launched the company’s first grain alcohol and Dutch gin plant in Marquette-lez-Lille in northern France. They later acquired their first mill in Marcq-en-Barœul.

From that site grew Société Industrielle Lesaffre, which gradually proved to be the driving force behind the Group’s industrial and commercial boom in yeast.

milestones in our history

1863: Acquisition of a mill in Marcq-en-Baroeul transformed into a distillary.

1895: The creation of the L’hirondelle brand, the Group’s emblematic fresh yeast which inspired the Lesaffre logo.

1923: Refocusing on yeast and malt activities. For the first time molasses were used for yeast production in Marcq-en-Baroeul. Alcohol activity was terminated in Marquette-lez-Lille.

1963: Partnership with Societa Trentina Lieviti, an Italian yeast factory which marked the start of Lesaffre’s expansion abroad.

1971: Acquisition of Fould-Springer in Maisons-Alfort and development of a new area of expertise : the production of yeast extracts.

1973: Creation of the first instant dry yeast product. Launch of Saf-Instant yeast, Lesaffre’s iconic product.

1974: Opening of the first Baking Center TM.

2001: Acquisition of Red Star Yeast & Products in the United States. Establishment in China. Purshasing of Ming Guang Yeast facility.

2015: Acceleration of the development of nutrition and health activities. Acquisition of Gnosis.


Celebrating 170 year anniversary in 2023

Celebrating a 170-year history inevitably means taking a look back to see how far we have come and to the measure the length and breadth of our territory… It means looking at the number not only of our employees, but also of our clients, products, projects, countries…
But these are only numbers. 

What do they mean in relation to all the generations of managers, employees, technicians, researchers, customers, suppliers, artisan bakers and industrialists, who have followed in each other’s footsteps? Each of them had their own ambitions and projects, their own values and perseverance, as they sought to build the Lesaffre of the past into the Lesaffre we know today – and the one that lies ahead.

Know more about lesaffre

Our mission

We strongly believe that fermentation is one of the most promising answers to feed 9 billion people in a safer, healthier and more sustainable way.

Our mission

Our Group

A key global player in fermentation for more than a century, Lesaffre, with a €3 billion turnover, and established on all continents, counts 11,000 employees and 96 nationalities.

Our Group

Our global presence

Throughoutour history, the Group has recognized the value of expanding ౼ not only our areas of expertise, but our geographic footprint. 

Our global presence