On the occasion of its #CestMoiQuiFabrique operation, Nestlé is opening the doors of several of its factories between April and July 2017 to show consumers, journalists and bloggers how their products are made.
It is in this context that I was able to enter the NESTLÉ BÉBÉ® factory, in Arches, in the Vosges, which produces no less than 200 million small jars a year (!). During this day, I discovered and participated in the production of Naturnes® baby apple compotes.
Equip yourself to visit
We are not joking to enter this lair of the apple! Before you can set foot in the factory, you have to put on your combat gear! Boots, blouse, helmet, glasses and hearing protection! Safety and hygiene above all! I feel like I’m going to change the world in this outfit. But no, I’m just going to make baby compote.
Visit and manufacture to understand
Once equipped, I finally enter the factory. Well, it’s noisy but it smells like apples, a sign of the ripeness of the fruit. I learn that the variety chosen is the Golden Delicious, the yellow apple which has a soft and not very pronounced taste, ideal for the little ones.
From orchard to baby spoon
The apples delivered are stored, washed and then sorted manually. They are not peeled but ground, discarding the pips and the core. They are then gently cooked, so as to preserve the nutritional qualities of the apple and its flavor. Once in the form of a compote, it’s time for homogenization then sterilization (a very rapid rise in temperature to eliminate any bacteria while preserving the taste).
Nothing is added in the compotes. There is only the apple. When the compote is ready, head to the filling area. The cups are made in the factory from selected packaging material to ensure product quality and safety. It is built in a sterile atmosphere then filled with compote and finally closed.
Last step, the conditioning area. Equipment checks each pot to be sure that there is no foreign body using X-rays. If something is detected, the pot is discarded.
Then, each jar is coded with the recipe and the batch number to be able to trace the origin of the product. A total of around one hundred checks are carried out on the production line. As soon as the products are packaged they are sent.
Tasting tests as well as organoleptic control (appearance, flavor, smell, texture) are carried out every day on the different batches. The factory operates 5 days a week, 24 hours a day, from Monday 5 a.m. to Saturday 5 a.m. The weekend is dedicated to cleaning.
I make it!
The visitors of the day also participated in the production of the apple compote: sorting and quality control of the apples, control of the product at mid-cooking, viscosity and organoleptic tests. For my part, I sorted the apples for about thirty minutes. At the slightest defect, hop, we put it in a bin intended for an animal feed industry (Phew, no waste). A job that the workers present put their heart into doing (at least in front of us). Nothing escapes them!
Here, the day is over, and fatigue is felt, between the trip, the noise of the factory and the time left standing. But a mother present confides: “I am extremely reassured because I completely find what I could do myself, from the choice of the apple to its cooking.”
Understand to choose
The purpose of this operation is to fight against the misconceptions of consumers. Potty food = junk food = bad for babies. But did you know that the raw materials used for the manufacture of small pots are extremely regulated and that they have a pesticide content close to zero? That the small jars are guaranteed without dyes or preservatives? That 150 checks are carried out from the orchard to the spoon which allow the product to be followed from A to Z?
In short, in terms of child food security, it is sometimes better to open a small jar than to go and buy your vegetables at the supermarket to make a puree… So that does not mean that you should only give small jars to your children. babies. But rather that you have to stop feeling guilty when you open one when you come home after a day’s work and continue to concoct homemade dishes for them because it’s fun!
Thanks to Vincent Gauteron, Director of the NESTLÉ BÉBÉ® factory and to the employees for their welcome.