Antitrust regulators have cleared the path for La Coop federee to take up a significantly larger, vertically integrated share of its home province’s pork packing, feed milling and hog production sectors.
The agribusiness co-operative announced Thursday its Olymel and Sollio Agriculture arms have “received the green light” from the federal Competition Bureau to buy the hog breeding, pork slaughter and packing, grain sourcing and feed milling operations of F. Menard.
The deal, which La Coop and F. Menard first announced in July, is now expected to close Jan. 6, La Coop said in a release.
The Competition Bureau’s approval for the sale comes with no conditions attached, an Olymel spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
The deal’s financial terms won’t be disclosed, La Coop added. Companies planning mergers or takeovers are required to notify the Competition Bureau in advance if the targeted assets in Canada are valued at or generate sales in or from Canada of $96 million or more.
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.
The deal will see Olymel, La Coop’s meat packing arm, take over management of F. Menard-owned hog farms.
Olymel will also take up F. Menard’s 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.
The deal also includes the F. Menard pork further-processing plant at nearby St-Jean-sur-Richelieu; a bacon plant at Henryville; two specialized butcher shops; and the company’s transportation fleet.
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.
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 in July.
La Coop’s president, Ghislain Gervais, said Thursday the deal “will provide Canada with one of the biggest agri-food companies in both the meat and milling sectors.”
Furthermore, he said, it “strengthens our ability to compete with world-class companies and consolidate our position in domestic and international markets” and will allow the combined companies to “push the limits of their respective markets.”
Sollio Agriculture’s CEO Sebastien Leveille said the deal will “consolidate (its) footprint in Quebec,” a market he said “remains of vital importance” to the company “although we are increasingly active elsewhere in the country.”
F. Menard executive director Luc Menard said Thursday the bureau “has just authorized a transaction that represents the best possible solution for the continued growth of the company to which our family has dedicated its heart and soul for nearly 60 years.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network