News last update:Feb 25, 2016

Merger creates largest Belgian pig processor

Two major Belgian pig processors, Covalis and Westvlees, have announced a merger that would create the largest pig slaughter and processing company in the country. The new company Belgian Pork Group would slaughter 4 million pigs annually, a market share of some 40 per cent, with a turnover of approx 800 million euro. The merger is subject to approval by the Belgian competition authorities.

Jos Claeys, currently CEO of Westvlees and named CEO of the new company, doesn't expect the merger to lead to any job losses among the 1,800 people that are working for Covalis or Westvlees. He thinks the merger will strengthen the position of Belgian pig holders and the sector as a whole on the international pork market.

Low pig prices

Pig holders in the country have suffered from the low pig prices because of the Russian embargo on European pork. ''The stronger we are, the better it is for the pig holders in Flanders. We will be able to present ourselves as one unit on the European market where annually 256 million pigs are slaughtered,'' Claeys says. Because of the small size of the home country, Belgian Pork Group will have to export half of the pork it produces.

Covalis is owned by the farmers cooperative Covavee and an investment fund of the farmers union Boerenbond. The company currently has five slaughter houses in Flanders. Westvlees is a family company with four production sites. A slaughter house and meat factory for cattle of Covalis will not be included in the merger.

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