Boss of Shanghai’s French Bakery Farine Hit by Expired Flour Crisis Says ‘He Will Surely Come Back’

(Yicai Global) March 28 — Once widely favored by consumers, Shanghai’s Farine Bakery, founded by Franck Louis Pecol, is now trapped in a deep crisis as it was uncovered that it used expired flour to make its trademark bread. Shanghai police has so far arrested four employees of the bakery. The founder, Pecol, told Yicai Global that he is still in France and “will surely come back.”

The Frenchman set up the Farine Bakery in Shanghai, selling French bakery specialties and French flour. Its bread loaf is sold at CNY16 (USD2.32) for each, while a small piece of fruit cake is priced at CNY40. Despite their high prices, such products were highly popular with customers.

However, on March 24, a netizen disclosed through the social media that the bakery had been using expired flour for a long time. In the subsequent inspection of Shanghai food quality regulatory department, nearly 3,000 bags of expired flour were found in the firm’s warehouse. The police have arrested the staff involved.

After Farine’s “flour scandal” was revealed, Yicai Global contacted Pecol, who replied via instant messaging service that “he is now in France and will surely come back.” On March 26, when asked of his whereabouts again, Franck said he would reply in two days.

Shanghai public security department and food safety regulatory department said that, Pecol, as the legal representative of the business involved, must appear in court to assume the main responsibility for food safety, and facilitate the work of the relevant regulatory department which handles the case.

Farine operated business for over 10 years in Shanghai. The expired flour scandal not only shocked the consumers in Shanghai who used to be the regulars of the French bakery, but also stunned French people living in Shanghai. “In the past few years, I usually go to Farine to buy baguette, and take my child to Rachel’s to have hamburger,” a regular customer called Denis told Yicai Global.

On Shanghai’s Wukang road, where Farine opened its first store, several other ‘popular stores’ set up businesses ranging from French family western style food to hamburger, bakery, coffee shop and ice cream. Queues lasting a few hours until each person’s turn comes up used to appear here every weekend. All the ‘popular stores’ were opened by the same person — Franck Louis Pecol, who came to China 12 years ago.

Apart from Farine, Franck owns six other businesses in the street including Rachel’s, Franck Bistro, Le Petit Franck, Grains and WIYF, which have suspended operations for the time being.

The bakery’s new plant in the outskirt of Shanghai was only put into operation earlier this month. It is exactly in this plant that the regulator found a large amount of expired flour imported from France.

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