The Louis Bonduelle Foundation: Carrying out practical measures to promote sustainable eating habits

by Laurence Depezay Laurence Depezay

As a specialist in vegetable products, the Bonduelle Group has a particularly relevant and significant role to play when it comes to dietary matters. Without a doubt, the future of food will revolve around culturally appropriate food systems (as our dietary behavior is inextricably linked to our culture) that help to protect the environment (as the environment and food are entirely dependent on one another), and that also enhance the health and safety of our food, both now and in the future (as the food that we eat has a direct impact on our health).

The creation of the Louis Bonduelle Foundation in 2004 was, therefore, a natural step for the Group. The objective of the Foundation is to draw on all its resources in order to encourage people to eat more vegetables in their daily lives, in a way that is useful, practical, and original. The Foundation’s work goes beyond simple words: it aims to take action on a daily basis to ensure that consumers are able to put theory into practice. Laurence Depezay, Scientific Communication Director and member of the Louis Bonduelle Foundation’s Board of Directors, explains its mission.

The Louis Bonduelle Foundation: Engaged with all stages of the food system…

Since our relationship with food involves much more than the simple act of feeding ourselves, the Louis Bonduelle Foundation works with all facets involved in the “act of eating”. The Foundation’s range of interests encompasses the following areas:

  • Before the act of eating: Since the quality of our food is directly associated with how we manage agricultural resources and the economics associated with those resources, the Foundation takes an interest in agronomy, agriculture, plant physiology, and the rural economy.
  • During the act of eating: Since the factors that determine our behavior are influenced by culture, biological considerations, our age, and our experiences, the Foundation takes an interest in sociology, the psychology of consumers, social marketing, epidemiology, and socioeconomics.
  • After the act of eating: Since the food that we eat has an impact on our day-to-day health, the Foundation takes an interest in nutrition, human physiology, biology, and medicine.

… and taking specific action in three areas

1.Information and awareness

The Foundation produces and disseminates information designed to change our day-to-day eating habits and our perception of vegetables. This material is widely accessible, in an interactive format, on the Foundation’s website.

This intuitive webpage was completely revamped in January 2017 (watch the video presentation here), and it contains a wide variety of content that is designed to ensure that consumers get the most out of the site. The website is available in multiple languages, and provides a unique platform for the sharing of information from all the countries in which the Group operates. The new site boasts plenty of new features: The “ABC: Vegetables and Nutrients” » section of the site contains an A-Z list of vegetables and nutrients that provides the user with all kinds of information—including how to grow vegetables, the season that they should be eaten in, and their health benefits. The “Magazine” section, meanwhile, is devoted to vegetables and vegetable-based products, general food-related topics, and new scientific research.

For ten years, the Foundation has been holding the annual Louis Bonduelle Foundation Conference, which unites those working to change eating habits. At this event, project leaders and experts in the field share their knowledge and passion on a specific theme. In June 2017, the 10th edition of the conference focused on the sustainable nature of our food and on acknowledging the role that culture plays in our eating habits. Four participants—two Canadian and two French—spoke of the factors that cause our eating habits to change and that call standard government-issued dietary recommendations into question. To get more information on these topics, or to watch the entire conference, click here.

2.Support for Research

The Foundation promotes national and international scientific research across several disciplines, including medicine, nutrition, sociology, and agronomy. Its goal is to advance knowledge regarding the components of a sustainable diet and the role played by vegetables in that diet. The Foundation also carries out its own research projects and supplies funding for academic research; €1,220,000 has already been provided in the way of financial support.

In the same vein, the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) and the Louis Bonduelle Foundation have been working together since 2009 to combat childhood obesity. The ECOG is made up of scientists, researchers, and doctors, and it works to share best practices and take action in the fight against childhood obesity across Europe. Their work has been showcased in a major digital publication, an e-book on child and adolescent obesity.

A research prize, the Louis Bonduelle Research Award, is also conferred each year during the Louis Bonduelle Foundation Conference. This accolade is aimed at researchers under the age of 35 who are completing a dissertation at a university or other institution of higher education.

In 2017, Jacynthe Lafrenière, a young researcher from Québec studying at the Université Laval, was awarded with the prize. Her research project focuses on the development of a tool that will allow researchers and doctors to categorize patients based on the quality of their diets and their level of compliance with nutritional recommendations.

3.On-the-ground initiatives

The Foundation also implements and supports practical initiatives on the ground that are led by locals. Their goal is to help consumers move toward more sustainable food habits by making vegetables more appealing to a wide range of audiences.

The “Classe Verte” (“Green Class”) project is a good example of such an initiative. In spring 2016, the Foundation spearheaded a project for 500 Montreal pupils aged from 6 to 16, whereby an outdoor area was provided in which the students could create a garden and grow various varieties of vegetables and herbs. Organized in four phases corresponding to the four phases of cultivation, this initiative provided the students with an educational insight into the world of agriculture, while also highlighting the pleasure involved in growing and then eating one’s own vegetables—a feat that they were all very proud of!

The Foundation launched an open call offering funding for projects of this nature in July 2016, with the primary goal of encouraging children and teenagers to become familiar with vegetables. In response to this call, 134 projects were submitted, of which 20 were selected.

The Louis Bonduelle Foundation in numbers

Operating in seven countries (France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Russia), the Foundation has supported over 200 projects in almost 20 countries since its launch. Some 400,000 people have benefited from its work.

€1,220,000 has been donated to research, and 27 research papers have been published on the Foundation’s website. Fourteen dissertation prizes have been awarded, with over 400 candidates from 28 different countries submitting applications.

The Foundation: Continuing to expand its global presence

As part of its objective to be present in every country in which the Bonduelle Group operates, this year the Foundation was launched in Russia, and the first field initiative there has already begun. The All-Russian Society for the Development of School and University Medicine and Health has devised “Healthy Eating and Nutrition” lessons to be taught through storytelling. Thanks to the Louis Bonduelle Foundation, these classes will be given to almost 250,000 students across over 1,400 schools in Moscow and the surrounding region between April 2017 and May 2018.

The Foundation is continuing to expand its international presence following the total revamp of its website, which will soon be launched in German and Portuguese. It’s also working to make its interaction with the public more dynamic by maintaining an even greater presence on social media sites like FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

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