* Sees sales to agri-food sector up 50 pct to 1 bln euros
* 11 bln euro market grows as recycling technology improves
* Mars factory's waste water produces gas to cut energy bill
PARIS, Nov 28 France's Veolia Environnement
expects revenue from food and agricultural firms to
grow by over 50 percent to 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in a
few years from 650 million in 2012 as regulation and
cost-cutting drive them to recycle.
The water, waste and energy services group said it was
offering to recycle water and turn biological waste into fuel or
reusable commodities for drinks makers, breweries, coffee makers
and agricultural industries.
Veolia Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said the global food
and agriculture sector already spends some 11 billion euros per
year on subcontractors to handle its waste and water and that
this market would grow as Veolia and its competitors develop new
recycling technologies and as regulation curbs waste production.
"It is a technological arms race to create new markets for
waste," Frerot told reporters on Thursday.
Veolia, the world's largest private supplier of drinking
water, aims to reduce its dependence on municipal water
contracts by focusing more on providing waste and energy
services to industrial clients.
Veolia recycles factory waste water for soft drinks makers
such as Coca Cola and Pepsi, brewers such as AB
Inbev and Heineken and food companies such as
Nestle and Kraft Foods .
Frerot said that over the past year Veolia had signed a
string of new contracts with food and agriculture firms
including the Mars chocolate and candy factory in Veghel,
Netherlands, where Veolia produces biogas from waste water.
Veolia turns the sugars, chocolate and other biological
residues in the plant's waste water into methane, cutting its
energy bill by 10 percent, he said, declining to give financial
details about individual contracts.
For Kent, UK-based Bakkavor, maker of ready-made salads and
meals, Veolia recycles water used for washing vegetables,
cutting water consumption by 70 percent. For drinks maker Diageo
in Speyside, Scotland, Veolia turns malt waste into fuel
that generates half of the steam used in the plant.
Frerot said that many of its contracts hinge on finding ways
to turn waste into a resource.
For French cereal group Limagrain, Veolia produces heat from
corn cobs, which must be burned slowly and at low temperatures
to prevent vitrification of the ashes and damage to the furnace.
For Dutch instant coffee maker DEMB, Veolia filters out waste
water to recover coffee dregs and then burns them for fuel.
Technology is the main factor that determines whether a type
of agribusiness waste can find a new use, Frerot said.
At Veolia's new methanisation facility in Arras, northern
France, which treats some 25,000 tonnes of organic waste per
year, agricultural businesses mostly pay the company to take the
waste off their hands.
"Once somebody finds a better use for endive roots, farmers
will no longer pay us to recycle it," he said.
Last year Veolia posted net profit of 394 million euros on
revenue of 29.4 billion euros.