InVivo pursues co-op alliances to vie with grain, chemical giants

Paris | Reuters — France’s InVivo wants to expand international partnerships with other co-operatives, including in joint buying of crop supplies and shipping fixtures, as it tries to compete with global grain trading and chemical firms, its CEO said on Wednesday.

InVivo, a grouping of 220 agricultural co-operatives and one of the largest exporters of French cereals, has focused on overseas growth under a reorganization launched two years ago by CEO Thierry Blandinieres.

In grain trading, Quebec’s La Coop Federee and Australia’s CBH Group have joined a co-operative alliance previously created by InVivo with Aca in Argentina and Zen-noh in Japan, Blandinieres said during a press presentation.

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The network is focused on knowledge sharing to allow the cooperatives to have similar market expertise to multinational traders, but the partners are now also discussing the possibility of jointly negotiating freight terms, he said.

The co-operative alliance, as well as a separate partnership with Archer Daniels Midland covering the Black Sea region, was also helping InVivo to source grain overseas, which was crucial this season after a poor French harvest, he added.

In France, InVivo distributes about 40 per cent of crop inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers sold in the European Union’s biggest grain producer, but wants to reinforce its position as the world’s leading crop chemical makers consolidate through multi-billion merger deals.

The French group aims to expand joint procurement of crop chemicals through Novafield, a European alliance of cooperatives, and develop its own offer via Life Scientific, a joint venture in Ireland based on molecules that are no longer patented.

InVivo already buys about 10 per cent of its crop inputs through Novafield and this has supported a 30 million-euro (C$43.77 million) gain for its farm supplies division over the past five years, Blandinieres said.

The group said its total sales reached 6.4 billion euros in its 2015-16 year to June 30, up from 5.7 billion the previous year.

Reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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