Hautes-Pyrénées: Food distributors are springing up in the countryside

Previously limited to bread and pizza, these machines now offer vegetables, meat and even hot meals at any time of day or night. Tools that are developing especially in rural areas, but not only…

From traditional and home cooking… to the automatic and connected machine to distribute it La Fringalerie family, with Audrey his sister-in-law. Today, in addition to the three types of burgers, creamy penne rigate with parmesan, roasted butternut and raw ham will take place on the 40 refrigerated grills.

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In a village in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Sébastien Badie, a multi-skilled horticulturist, sells his vegetables in a 24-hour vending machine in front of his house

“We started before the covid with the delivery of meals and then we adapted to the demand, explains Alexandra. For us it was wonderful to be able to sell at any time of the day, in a crowded place, which lent itself to doing so, with teleportation companies not far away. It brought us new customers, even with locals, when we wondered about the reception of this car. In the end what matters is the kitchen, which we have adapted so that it can heat up perfectly. So no fries, but new potatoes, which are more microwave-safe. A recipe that pleases given that La Fringalerie is looking for a new place to set up a second distributor and will hire to meet demand.

There was no longer a home delivery baker in Luby-Betmont

The success of this food vending machine is not isolated. Whether it’s bread, pizzas, meats (at the Manse butcher’s shop in Bagnères or at Sica in Tarbes) or vegetables (see below), machines have grown above all in the country villages where commercial activities have disappeared. the distributors of the Estampes baker flourished in Osmets, Chelle-Debat, Cabanc or Luby-Betmont. “We had a project for a bus shelter in the city to ensure access for children, explains the mayor of Luby-Betmont, Yves Cieutat. We took advantage of a common lot to bring together several projects into one, including the development of a common wood kiosk. Mr. Ricourt came looking for me to install a bread and cake dispenser, then a second. As in Trie, two bakers were retiring, there was no home delivery anymore. We have not asked for the rent, considering it a service to the inhabitants. But you have to see the huge turnout. He has to refill them several times a day. The town hall has received requests from other manufacturers that the configuration of the premises does not allow to honor.

+46% between 2021 and 2022 at the Vergers de Barousse distributor

In Izaourt, Christophe Escoubes, the manager of Verges de Barousse, has been a forerunner in the department since December 2019. “We toured the store’s products, but the clientele was aging and active people were absent. The distributor made it possible to connect the store and the tour. It has completely blown up with covid. From 40 bins filled with 5kg bags of apples and apple juice, Christoph Escoubes rose to 8 and then soon to 136, always near the orchards. “It really got into the moral. It’s really more turnover, with new customers who didn’t know we were selling locally. We have people who come from Toulouse or Tarbes to look for apples, at any time. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of distributors is increased by 46%. I was worried about the bigger ones, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. They are agile. “And in ever more connected campaigns, “these machines have even more space” assures Christophe Escoubes.

At Sole Mio, in Bazet, the distributor even dethroned take-away sales when the pizzeria closed. “We installed the first machine in the summer of 2020, explains Nathalie Oddos, whose husband David was a French pizza champion. We thought it would be a complement but, in the end, it’s the main part of our figure. There are still some skeptics who prefer to order directly at the counter, who value relationships, but many prefer the distributor, to be served immediately, without meeting anyone. So much so that a second vending machine has been installed by Sole Mio in Vic-en-Bigorre. Equipment with cold room with capacity for 70 pizzas and cooking and logistics department. All for a cost of between €50,000 and €60,000. “It’s profitable from ten pizzas a day, we’re practically there. It requires prep work, in terms of making the dough, every day of the week, but is also more flexible in terms of hours. And finally, the quality is there. It’s the same pizza. At least six pizza distributors have emerged in the Val d’Adour in the last two years.

“Does not add life to villages”

Alain Gales, departmental director of bakers, is skeptical about the use of these vending machines. “Machine makers are dangling El Dorado for bakers. In the most remote places it can be understood, especially since in these villages there are often few people present during the day. You have to see case by case. But there are still bakers making the rounds. Because with these distributors the human does not exist at all. He adds no life to the village, no contact. »

Only a service in municipalities without trade. “With covid people no longer meet, these distributors are indicative of this, says Mr. Cieutat, mayor of Luby-Betmont. We see this with the new inhabitants, happy to leave the city for the countryside, but just trying to isolate themselves. »

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