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Belco plans to import thousands of tons of coffee by sailboat from 2026

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Yes it’s a publicity stunt, but totally assumed. Specializing in the importation of “green” coffee (respectful of the environment), the company Belco, based in Mérignac (Gironde), brought for the first time 30 tons of coffee transported by sail, from Colombia. The schooner Avontuur, from the Breton shipping company Towt (Transoceanic Wind Transport), docked at the port of Bassens on Monday, after crossing the Atlantic for about two months.

The schooner L’Avontuur – Belco

While Belco imports around 9,000 tonnes of coffee per year, it is clearly not this trip that will revolutionize the carbon footprint of the Gironde company. “But making this publicity stunt would have made no sense for us, if behind us we did not have the will to start a real revolution in the delivery of our coffee”, assures the CEO of Belco, Alexandre Bellangé. The Gironde company aims to transport 50% of its coffee by sail by 2026, i.e. between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes.

“The impact for the consumer will be ten cents for a 250 gram packet”

It was however not won in advance. In 2016, the first time that Alexandre Bellangé met Guillaume Le Grand, founder of Towt, to discuss the issue of transporting goods by sail, it was quickly decided. “I realized that it was just impossible with a schooner, remembers Alexandre Bellangé. With a capacity limited to 30 tons, a round trip between France and South America of three to four months, and a transport cost of around 5,000 euros per ton, against 75 to 100 dollars per ton in a classic shipping, absolutely nothing was right. »

The Avontuur sailboat delivered 30 tons of coffee to the Belco company based in Mérignac – Grand Port Maritime de Bordeaux

But at the same time, Towt was working on the design of a real cargo-sailing ship with a capacity of 1,100 tons, which should be ready for 2023. In addition to this change of scale in terms of capacity, “the transport time will be reduced to 17 days, for a much more acceptable price of 350-400 dollars per ton” advances Alexandre Bellangé, who has therefore made a commitment with Towt to start from 2023, the progressive delivery of its products to sail. “It remains artisanal compared to a container ship, but it is clearly the future. »

Founded in 2011, in Finistère, the TOWT specializes in low-carbon transport by sail and will build a cargo sailboat, which will transport on behalf of major brands, up to 10,000 tonnes of goods per year. – /@TOWT

For the consumer, “the impact will be around 10 ct for a 250 g packet,” assures the CEO of Belco, which sells its coffees to a thousand roasters in Europe. It will be more expensive, but not inaccessible either. The coffees that we import are of high quality and are already worth a certain price, so paying a little more to decarbonize maritime transport by more than 90% seems obvious to me. Today it is a real craze. »

The decarbonization of transport “is the element that makes our approach shine”

The experiment carried out with the Avontuur schooner will also allow the Belco teams to “confront the constraints of this mode of transport, which involves major changes in terms of logistics and container security. »

However, Alexandre Bellangé insists: maritime transport represents only 10% of the decarbonization of coffee. “The process used for harvesting is 90% of the subject, and that is what concerns us. Transport is only the third emitter of greenhouse gases. But it is the one that arouses the most enthusiasm, and it is the element that gives coherence and makes our whole approach shine. »

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Source: 20minutes

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