Development capital investment fund Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins (CRCD) has invested in two major Quebec co-operatives. The move was announced during the third edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, which is taking place in the province.
Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers’ Co-operative and agri-food co-op Unicoop received financial support from the fund, which which was set up to nurture entrepreneurship in Quebec.
Carried out with the backing of the Essor et Coopération fund, which is managed by CRCD and works to create and develop Quebec co-ops, the investments total CAD$9m – CAD$6.5m for Citadelle and CAD$2.5m for Unicoop.
Luc Ménard, Desjardins Business Capital régional et coopératif’s chief operating officer, said: “Co-operatives are an essential element in developing our regions. As in all sectors of the economy, competition is fierce and co-ops have to be innovative to stay ahead of the pack and grow.
“The support will enable these two agriculture and agri-food industry frontrunners to stay in the lead in their respective markets.”
Mr Ménard sees the health of Quebec co-ops as a growth vector for local economies. Since the creation of CRCD in 2001, 35 co-operatives have received support totalling more than CAD$177m.
With nearly 100,000 shareholders, the public company has CAD$1,643m in net assets and supports the growth of over 410 businesses, co-ops and funds in various industries spanning all Quebec regions, helping to create and retain more than 68,000 jobs.
For Martin Plante, Citadelle’s director general, the partnership with CRCD and the Essor et Coopération fund is a growth accelerator for the co-op.
“With demand increasing in every part of the world, we had to find the resources to more actively drive sales of the products we export to some 40 countries,” he said. “While that’s an exciting situation for all of our 2,000 members, it called for support from a patient partner that believes in co-operative values and understands the importance of growing Quebec businesses.”
Citadelle, founded in 1925, still produces maple syrup, but is also Canada’s only cranberry co-op and the largest cranberry processor in the country, employing 300 people.
Unicoop is an agri-food wholesaler with 400 employees across some 20 outlets. It was the regional finalist in the Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards 2016 in the Co-op category.
Gaétan Roger, Unicoop general manager and CEO, said: “Our market is changing fast due to increasing consolidation, in particular in the farming, hardware and farm machinery sectors. With CRCD support for our expansion plan, we’ll have the means to take advantage of business opportunities through strategic acquisitions that will solidify our position.”
Guy Cormier, president and CEO of Desjardins Group, said: “We finance 90% of the co-operatives in Quebec. And as business models evolve quickly, that contribution will likely continue to grow because we don’t only believe in co-operative entrepreneurship; we believe first and foremost in the men and women who bring the spirit of co-operation to life.
“This drive to grow will be felt particularly in the agri-food industry where Desjardins, with loans of CAD$10bn, is already a market leader, generating spinoffs across all regions of Quebec.”
In this article
- agri-food co-op
- agri-food industry
- agri-food industry frontrunners
- agri-food wholesaler
- Business models
- chief operating officer
- Consumers' co-operative
- cranberry processor
- Desjardins Group
- farm machinery sectors
- Gatan Roger
- Guy Cormier
- International Summit of Co-operatives
- International Summit of Cooperatives
- Luc Mnard
- major Quebec co-ops
- market leader
- Martin Plante
- Top Stories
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