1993 - 2006

The "Club des villes Diester"


Foundation of Rustica Prograin Génétique. Sofiprotéol joined forces with the company to participate in the grouping of seed sector operators around a leading player.   

In 1994, in order to promote Diester, Sofiprotéol created the "Club des villes Diester". This grouped together local authorities, whose fleets – particularly buses – used fuel incorporating 30% Diester. By 1998, the Club already had 30 members. In 2003, it was renamed "Partenaires Diester."

With Jean-Claude Sabin and Philippe Tillous-Borde, we combed the countryside to encourage rapeseed-producing regions to participate in building the Grand-Couronne Diester factory.

Yves Delaine


Foundation of Novance, in partnership with Rhône-Poulenc Chimie. The company was set up in Venette, where it produced and marketed products derived from vegetable oils for non-food applications, such as the glycerine used in numerous pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations.

Renault Véhicules Industriels extended its engine warranty to cover the use of Diester.


Creation by ONIDOL and MATIF, France's international futures market, of the rapeseed futures market, the first of its kind in Europe. Its goal was to provide operators with a tool for managing risks relating to price fluctuations.


Opening in October of the Grand-Couronne Diester factory by French Prime Minister Alain Juppé. With a production capacity of 120,000 metric tons, this was the biggest biodiesel plant in the world. A highly original financing structure associated grain storage organisations, 18 regions and nine producer départements

Bunge decided to cease its grain crushing activities in Europe. Sofiproptéol became the leading shareholder in Vamo Mills, one of the main European operators in the crushing sector, present in several countries in Europe. A subsidiary of the Belgian group Vandemoortele, Vamo Mills took over Saipol, owner of Sofiprotéol's crushing sites.


Foundation of Biogemma along with the international seed group Limagrain, Euralis and Unigrains. The company, specialising in plant genomics, focused particularly on the resistance of oilseeds. This gave Sofiprotéol a foothold in the sphere of plant genetics.


A major stakeholder in the seed sector

Aware that research on improving crop yield was a crucial concern for the sector, Sofiprotéol began to back research into seeds and acquired stakes in various companies in the sector.   

In the late 1990s, as a shareholder in the biotechnology specialist company Biogemma, the group also began to support the genomics research of Genoplante Biotechnologies Vertes, and then of its successor, the GIS BV (green biotech scientific interest group), hich aimed to improve the yield, resistance to disease and quality of plant species.

1998. Acquisition of a stake in Glon Sanders,

a leader in France in the animal feed sector: a major outlet for oilseed.   

 Diester’s development since 1993 had led to a significant rise in rapeseed production and thus of meal intended for animal feed. This product has become increasingly strategic for us. Hence the appeal of acquiring a stake in Glon Sanders.

Alain Brinon, CEO of Saipol since 2003

In 2008, Sofiprotéol created an FSRSO (oilseed research support fund), whose purpose was to finance innovative projects on the selection of sunflower and rapeseed varieties.  

1998. Vandemoortele withdraws from grain crushing.

Sofiprotéol formed an alliance with Céréol, the oilseeds division of the Italian food industry group   Eridania Béghin-Say. 40% of the French oilseed harvest and 60% of refined oil production were shared between Céréol and Saipol, which now managed four factories directly. Fifteen years after its formation, the company was firmly established in its industrial vocation. 

1999. Foundation of Créagro

a venture capital company geared towards the creation of innovative companies in the food and agribusiness sectors.

A new Chairman for Sofiprotéol

In 2000, Xavier Beulin replaced Jean-Claude Sabin as Chairman of Sofiprotéol. A farmer in the Loiret, he became Chairman of the FOP (French federation of oilseed and protein crop producers) in 1999. 

In 2010, he was elected Chairman of the FNSEA, the main French farmers' union.



Buyout of Lesieur, owned by Eridania Béghin-Say since 1988. The acquisition of one of France's best-known edible oils brought a major outlet to the oilseed sector, particularly for rapeseed and sunflowers. 

The goal I set myself when I arrived in 2000 was to extend the seed value chain as far as possible. 

Xavier Beulin, Chairman of Sofiprotéol


Sofiprotéol crossed the 50-employee threshold

A European directive set the percentage of biofuel at 2% of the energy value of transport- dedicated fuels for 2005 and at 5.75% for 2010. 

Lesieur: a key name in oil

Founded in 1908 by Georges Lesieur, the company specialised in the production and marketing of peanut oil. During the Second World War, it opened factories in Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia to produce olive oil. By the 1960s the company was France's leading manufacturer of edible oils and diversified into mayonnaise, ready-made meals and cleaning products.

Bought out by the Eridania-Béghin-Say company in 1988, Lesieur was taken over by Sofiprotéol in 2003. 


Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced a new "Biofuel Plan", setting a 5.75% inclusion rate as of 2008.

Sofiprotéol opened a new Diester factory at Sète (Hérault) with a production capacity of 160,000 metric tons. 
Work started on six new units to triple Diester production. Located close to the crushing factories in Venette, Le Mériot (Aube), Montoir-de-Bretagne (Loire-Atlantique), Bordeaux-Bassens, Coudekerque (Nord) and Grand-Couronnes, these units were opened in 2007 and 2008.

Formation, with Bunge, of Diester Industrie International, a joint subsidiary for the production and marketing of biodiesel throughout the European Union outside France.

From seed to bottle –  the strategic objective behind the takeover of Lesieur.  

Yves Delaine



Acquisition of Puget. Sofiprotéol boosted its market share in the high-growth niche of olive oils and became France's leading manufacturer of edible oils.


When visiting the Diester factory at Venette, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced the launch of a "Biofuel Plan". This involved a number of new features, with volumes benefiting from a partial reduction in the domestic tax on petroleum products for 800,000 metric tons of biofuel, including 480,000 metric tons of bioethanol. 


Takeover of Novance (olechemistry).