Jim Long Pork Commentary: European Road Trip week 2

This past week we were in France, Paris for a bit, but most of our time was in Brittany, where about 70% of Frances pig production is located.
calendar icon 14 August 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

Our observation

France had about one million sows in last December inventory. Producers are almost all, family owned farrow to finish operations with around 200 sow.

There are two major Global Mega Producers in France, both are co-operatives Cooprel with 240,000 sows is a private agricultural cooperative with head office in Bretagne, France. The company was founded in 1966 by 24 pig farmers. For the past 50 years, Cooprel has specialized in pig production. Today it is a leading pork producer in France with 5,000 employees and 2,700 members. The average size of sows’ farms is 200 sows per site. Cooprel also produces 1.4 million tons of animal feed per year – 85% for pigs, 8% for poultry and 7% for cattle. The four slaughter plants in France, process five million pigs per year.

Aveltis also a Global Mega Producer, is the second biggest in France. Was founded in 2010, when three cooperatives – BPO, Pigolys and LT Landivision – merged. The company has 120,000 sows, marketing three million pigs per year. The Aveltis group is comprised of members in the region of Brittany, Pays de Loire, Poiton Charentes and worth diligently to economically position its members and protect the product of pork politically.

Producers in France are currently making profits of 20-30 Euro per market hog. We understand from our meetings there are few new barns being built and there is concern that in the future the 200 sows sow average size farm will have generational decisions. Who will take over the family farm? Big issue for not only the families but the industry as well.

In 2007 France had 1.25 million sows in the fall of 2016. A drop of 240,000 sows.

One of the things we find unique in France is the scale of the artificial AI groups. The leading AI centre is YXIA where Genesus boars are located. Last year 2.5 million doses of AI sold, 160 employees in 8 air filtered AI locations. The other major AI Company is Gene Diffusion, with similar size.

With the smaller farms in France there is quite the intensity of management to maximize profitability. One Genesus customer is weaning 14.6 pigs/ wean. This numbers is enhanced by intense farrowing and use of nurse sows. A practice used to maximise thought put.

France has been a market which has been dominated by Piertain boars. They wanted a very lean pig. It is amazing to us the acceptance of Genesus Durocs. Part of it is that France is now exporting to Asia and that market wants red meat, marbling and juiciness, Pietrain doesn’t have. The other factor, Genesus Durocs grow fast and are easier to work with, a key factor for producers who own pigs and work with them every day.

It was a good trip. I enjoyed to learn more about other countries industry and time spent therewith two of my boys. I am fortunate to be in position to show them parts of the world and different business dealings. The cultural differences and the nuances of our industry.
One thing that I always find compelling is the quality of people in the swine industry everywhere in the world. Their decency, welcoming attitude that probably comes from a life dealing with the challenges of pig production. It’s an honorable business that I am glad I am part of.

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