French oilseed group Avril announced a joint venture on 27 June that will invest US$72M over the next four years in producing a rapeseed-based resin ingredient for the wood panel industry.

Together with Israeli start-up firm Biopolymer Technologies (BPT) and state investment bank BPI France, the Evertree joint venture aims to launch an industrial pilot plant in Compiègne, France and to open a dedicated facility in 2018.

“Production capacity should be gradually increased to reach 50,000 tonnes/year by 2020,” Avril said.

According to Avril representatives at a press presentation, the venture will utilise rapeseed meal to create an additive that will reduce the amount of resin needed in wood panels by 20-30%.

This represented potential savings in resin use, which accounted for 50-60% of the cost of making wood panels. It would also allow wood panel manufacturers, particularly furniture makers, to reduce the use of formaldehyde, a traditional resin component classified as a cancer risk.

Evertree CEO Fabrice Garrigue said the joint venture aimed to sell its product at €2-7/kg, representing a turnover of some €200M at full capacity, Reuters reported.

Formerly known as Sofiproteol, the Avril Group name was adopted in 2015, when a new structure was announced to distinguish between the group’s industrial and financial activities.

Sofiproteol was founded in 1983 by oilseeds and protein crops producers to assure market growth.

Avril’s industrial activities are now split between its oilseeds and animal products divisions.

The oilseeds division is structured around four businesses – crushing and refining of oilseeds; human nutrition (primarily through major brands such as Lesieur and Puget vegetable oils); renewable energies (under the Diester biodiesel brand); and renewable chemistry (using molecules derived from oils and fats processing).

Avril’s animal products division has three businesses involved at every stage of the livestock breeding process. Nutrition and animal products (under the Sanders brand); human nutrition, which includes animal and food products processing, preparation and marketing (egg products under the Matines brand, but also pork and poultry products); and biosecurity and nutritional specialities.

Financing and development activities are led by Sofiprotéol, which partners some 100 companies in the oil and protein sectors, and supports companies in the agricultural and agribusiness sector by taking minority stakes and offering loans.