It’s not only companies that roam the world in search of new markets. France’s largest pig cooperative Cooperl also took the step and opened offices in China and Russia. Cooperl explains its strategy to Pig Progress.
By Vincent ter Beek
"If you want to be in business in ten years from now, you need to be in China and Russia." For internationally operating companies, a remark like this may be reasonably common. Speaking here, however, is not the CEO of a large multinational company – but Pierre Le Guilloux, specialised distribution director at Cooperl – a French cooperative, owned by producers.
2012, the cooperative opened an office in Beijing, China, mainly for selling manufactured goods and services. And in April this year, a joint-venture was signed between Cooperl China and Henan Xinda Muye company to build a nucleus farm in Henan province for 1,500 GGP sows near the city of Zhengzhou.
In France, the fates of Cooperl and pork producers are intertwined. Not only do the pork producers own Cooperl – the cooperative is also responsible for equipment, feed, environmental treatment, slaughterhouses and even butcheries. As well organised the market in France may be, the pig business in Western Europe is characterised by saturation, legislation and subsidies. To secure an economically secure outlook for the years to come, looking to other continents is not a bad idea.
The newly found business Cooperl China aims to operate in a different way than in France. Le Guilloux explains, "In China, the farmer has his own company. Cooperl is just a tool that can help him."
He points to the fact that Cooperl, exporting their ideas and concepts, can be a one-stop shop for producers. "Acquiring the right materials for pork production is like a puzzle. If it doesn't fit, then your farm does not function properly. With our extensive experience we can offer producers a combination of nutrition, genetics, and equipment. Some of these techniques are exclusive – this can be our strength. Many producers travel all abroad – and see all kinds of techniques. When they have to choose for themselves, some are happy to pay that little bit more."
The GGP farm aims to start functioning early 2014. One of the unique features of the facility is to have high
biosecurity – and its location certainly helps in achieving this goal, as it is being built totally isolated in the mountains. Air filtration will also help keep unwanted bugs out.
Cooperl has been actively exporting meat abroad for over 25 years – in fact, between 35-40% is exported from France to 35 countries, mainly in Europe and sometimes Asia. To this activity, one more chapter can be added as Russian producers have also expressed their interest in cooperating with Cooperl, announces Le Guilloux.
The cooperative therefore also makes the physical move to Russia, he says. A different market altogether, therefore it requires a different approach. "The market in Russia is already much more structured than in China. Russia is now looking for very technical results, rather than just products. So what we do here is mainly work together with customers – and help them to achieve better results."
This way, it is hoped that it cuts both ways for Cooperl – helping producers all around the world – and indirectly also its own members in Brittany.