Hénaff’s cans are going into orbit with Thomas Pesquet

Hénaff’s cans are going into orbit with Thomas Pesquet

Brittany-based Jean Hénaff, which is famous for their pâté, is preparing and packaging meals for astronauts from the European Space Agency, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet.

Truffled potato cake with Roscoff onions, 7-hour beef in wild-mushroom sauce, caramelized pear amandine… those are just a few of the dishes the famous French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will be able to enjoy during his second mission on board the International Space Station (ISS), in 2021. The recipes were perfected by Chef Thierry Marx and the chemical-physicist Raphaël Haumont, co-directors of the French Center for Culinary Innovation at Paris-Saclay University.

But none of that would have been possible without the expertise of Brittany’s Jean Hénaff Group. With over a century of experience in crimping and canning, in 2016, they were honored with the Living Heritage Firm label. A family-owned business with 280 employees, they have been making terrines, rillettes, and charcuterie, as well as a number of products made from seaweed, since 1907. The food-in-space collaboration is quite a challenge for the Breton company, which has to transpose exceptional recipes into extremely lightweight metal containers that are compatible with a gravity-free environment, while still preserving both taste and food safety.

  • Preserving flavors –

Our expertise consists in crimping the cans perfectly for absolute airtightness, and sterilizing just enough to preserve the recipes’ flavors and nutritional quality. Our goal is for the food to taste just like it does on Earth so that the astronauts will enjoy it just as much,”

Carole Machut, head of R&D for the Jean Hénaff Group, explains. “The other priority is to guarantee flawless microbiological safety.”

A meticulous task that Thomas Pesquet paid tribute to by coming to thank the staff at Jean Hénaff for preparing the food he ate during his first mission to ISS, in 2016.

Thanks to USDA certification, which means that the firm is authorized to export meat-based products to the United States, the company has been producing some 2,000 dishes a year for the International Space Station since 2011. Thanks to their international marketing efforts, in 2018, the company generated 7% of their revenue – out of a total of €45.5 million – from exports.

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