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Olymel, Sollio to take up F. Menard pork, feed businesses

Deal includes hog production, pork packing, feed milling operations

The meat packing and ag input retail arms of Quebec’s La Coop federee are about to take a much longer reach in their home province.

The agrifood co-operative announced Tuesday its Olymel and Sollio Agriculture businesses have an agreement in place to buy the hog breeding, pork slaughter and packing, grain sourcing and feed milling operations of family-owned Quebec agribusiness F. Menard.

The deal’s financial terms won’t be disclosed, La Coop federee said — though it noted the deal will need approval from the federal Competition Bureau, which is required for transactions valued at over $96 million.

Set up at Ange-Gardien, Que. in 1961 by Fulgence Menard, the Menard business today has over 1,200 employees across all its business lines and accounts for production of over 1.1 million hogs per year on over 300 farms, or about 15 per cent of all Quebec production.

F. Menard distributes its products in Canada and in 30 other countries, most notably Japan, and launched its own bacon retail brand, Le Meilleur Bacon, in 2017.

The deal will see La Coop’s meat packing business, Olymel, take over management of F. Menard-owned hog farms, plus:

  • a pork slaughter, cutting and deboning plant, which saw a $7 million expansion in 2016 and today has a weekly slaughter capacity of 25,000 hogs on one shift, at Ange-Gardien, about 60 km east of Montreal;
  • a pork product plant at nearby St-Jean-sur-Richelieu;
  • a 70,000-square-foot bacon plant, set up in 2011 at Henryville, about 45 km southwest of Ange-Gardien;
  • two specialized butcher shops; and
  • the company’s transportation fleet.

La Coop’s Sollio Agriculture arm, meanwhile, will take over F. Menard’s 500,000-tonne per year milling operations at Ange-Gardien and nearby Saint-Pie-de-Bagot and its grain storage and drying facilities at nearby Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville.

F. Menard’s separate operations in poultry production are not part of the deal, La Coop said.

“After long strategic reflection, the decision to sell the company proved to be the best solution to ensure a promising future for F. Menard,” the company’s executive director Luc Menard said in La Coop’s release.

“We have come to the decision we are announcing to you today with the preservation and development of what we have built over the past six decades and the interest and future of our employees in mind.”

Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau said the combined business “will take advantage of new synergies and increased capabilities to offer our customers and consumers high-quality products and excellent service,” but didn’t specify what the synergies will involve.

La Coop’s executive committee president Ghislain Gervais said Olymel “has all the resources and expertise to help F. Menard grow, take its expertise further and leverage the growth resulting from this agreement to compete even more effectively with world-class companies in all markets.”

Olymel today has over 13,000 employees at meat production and processing plants in Quebec and four other provinces, and exports nearly a third of its total sales.

Sollio Agriculture CEO Sebastien Leveille said the Menard feed operations “will continue independently” within Sollio once the deal closes.

The Menard feed business’ “expertise and employees will be invaluable in positioning Sollio Agriculture’s milling activities and strengthening our leadership role in the marketing of agricultural inputs in Canada,” he said. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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