A gem in the Auvergne
Le Saloir de Mirabel (Mirabel curing factory) was the starting point for the expansion of the Bell Food Group in France. Today, it produces Auvergne raw ham PGI of the highest quality. And for the future, the management team of the company wants to achieve the same top quality as hams from the Iberian peninsula and from Parma.
We are located at the foot of the Volcano National Park Auvergne. The Mirabel creek, which runs next to the factory and gave it its name, has its source up there. «A real gem in the midst of green nature», is how Julien Brionnet, technical director of Bell France, describes the Saloir de Mirabel curing factory, for whom it is like a second home.
He started there in 2000 as an employee in the dried sausage production. Located in the municipality of Riom, the factory belonged to Salaison Polette from 1974, before the Bell Food Group took over the company in 2008. «So this is the historic production site, and effectively the DNA of the Bell Food Group in France. This is where it all began. This is where we acquired all our experience and know-how, first in the field of dry sausage and then in the field of Auvergne cured ham. In the beginning, the sausages were dried on wooden sticks, the air flow control was not as modern as it is today, and there was a lot of manual work. Of course there were mistakes and problems that had to be solved, but this way we could constantly improve. »
In 2003 a new factory was built in Teilhède, a village about ten kilometres away. And Julien Brionnet was given the responsibility for setting up the production of Auvergne raw ham. «At first we didnʼt know how we were going to do it. But people trusted us and we were given a completely free hand.» Then Rodolphe Zou, who was 22 years old at the time, was hired. He remembers: «The five drying rooms were empty, and there were three of us. We gradually built up the production lines, adapting them as needed and adding machines when necessary. And so the company gradually developed, step by step.»