What is the idea behind this first “Integrated” Annual Report from Avril?
Arnaud Rousseau : Presenting Avril this way is wholly in line with what we are: a company whose model for 35 years has been based on the ideas of growing the French Farm, not paying dividends and creating value at all levels in the chain. This is an extremely modern model that encompasses the notions of corporate responsibility and business excellence, as well as reflecting all the values that drive our activities. These are values that are held in common by our shareholders in the farming world, our employees, partners and customers, and our consumers.
Jean-Philippe Puig : Few companies start developing their strategic plan by analyzing their impact on criteria such as creating jobs in rural areas, product traceability or greenhouse gas emissions, etc. But that is what we have done since 2012 by determining our activities as a function of these criteria before even considering their financial aspects.
Why did you launch a debate on the Group’s vision just four years after it was set up?
J-P.P : We did this in response to demands from our colleagues: beyond our overall mission, what are the ties that unite Avril employees that might also be relevant to all stakeholders in the sector? These collaborative efforts have not yet been completed, but they have already given rise to the slogan: "Cultivate Tomorrow". It is the idea behind these simple words that is important: a committed vision of agriculture, of growth in the sector and of innovation and corporate responsibility. Quite apart from our five-year strategic plan, these are the ideals we continue to defend.
A.R : As we did when discussing our values in 2013, we are formalizing what were, and will always be, our guiding principles. This collective approach creates an internal dynamic in which farmers of the “filière” are strongly involved.
What is your assessment of 2018?
A.R : After a very difficult year in 2017, our teams made extraordinary efforts to redefine our goals and priorities for the next five years, and to evaluate our model and our risks, strengths and weaknesses. This was a major achievement which gave rise to the Avril 2023 plan that was validated by the Board at the end of the year.
J-P.P : In business terms, the year was clearly one of two halves. During the first half, the Group suffered and focused on its costs, with particular emphasis on increased rigor throughout the organization. The second half was much more satisfactory.
Could you qualify it as a year of recovery?
J-P.P : Certain decisions clarified the horizon regarding strategic regulatory issues, such as the future for biodiesel in Europe between now and 2030 or support from the French government for our new fuel, Oleo100. These favorable outcomes have restored a positive dynamic, but we must remain cautious. We are subject to the external risks inherent in agriculture and livestock farming, sectors that continue to experience problems that affect both our customers and suppliers.
A.R : 2018 clearly marked the laying of new foundations for the Group, and the resilience of our model is a true reason for confidence. Recovery was less marked from an agricultural point of view. The situation remains complicated for both the arable and livestock sectors. We have contributed to the debate on valorization and the need to upgrade French agricultural and food products. But we need to go further. What do we want to do with our farming model? What about French and European food sovereignty, notably in plant proteins? Wherever we are active, development of the French Farm and its local sectors, which is one of the Group’s vocations, is central to these questions that require political responses.