Dairy co-op giant Agropur reports strong results at annual meeting

Canadian dairy giant Agropur Cooperative announced excellent financial results at its 78th annual general meeting, with revenues of nearly CAD$6bn for the year to November 1, 2016. Earnings from...

Canadian dairy giant Agropur Cooperative announced excellent financial results at its 78th annual general meeting, with revenues of nearly CAD$6bn for the year to November 1, 2016.

Earnings from operations grew by $105.7m, or 34.6%, to $411.7m, while net earnings rose 63.1% to $154m before patronage dividends – which also increased by 50% to $60.1m.

The US component of revenues continued to grow, rising to 44.3%.

Chief executive Robert Coallier said: “The encouraging numbers reflect the wide-ranging improvement efforts and successes of our 8,000 employees in a still-uncertain market environment.

“Our sustainability depends on our growth. Having risen to the ranks of the world’s top 20 dairy processors and established a clear development strategy, we intend to continue our expansion in order to remain a major player in a fast-consolidating industry.

“Our actions of the past few years have positioned us to face the future with confidence.”

Read more: Who are this year’s regional champions at Agropur?

The annual meeting was Serge Riendeau’s last as president of Agropur, closing a 15-year tenure.

“I am proud of the work we have all done to support our co-operative’s development, always with a view to securing its future,” he said.

“Agropur’s performance is the result of the sum of all the initiatives we have taken in recent years: our mergers and acquisitions, our cost-cutting programs, our major investments in our brands and in our facilities in both Canada and the US.

Agropur has an extensive product range
Agropur has an extensive product range

“We are prouder than ever of our business model, which helps spread the wealth and develop local communities. I leave the presidency of Agropur confident that our co-operative rests on solid foundations.”

Mr Riendeau will be succeeded as president by René Moreau, Warwick, Quebec who has been a member of the board since 1998.

“I am gratified by the trust my colleagues have placed in me and excited about continuing Mr. Riendeau’s work,” he said.

“I am honoured to be able to build on the legacy of our predecessors and I look to the co-operative’s future with tremendous optimism.”

Agropur capped the successful results when it was named Canada’s most trusted dairy brand on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, for the second year running.

In addition, Natrel topped the rankings in the fine filtered, lactose-free and organic categories, while OKA has grown its volume by 75% since its repositioning 2013. Olympic and iögo posted the strongest growth in the fresh dairy products category with 10% and 6% increases respectively, compared with a 3% average.

Last year, the co-op announced that all made-in-Canada products sold under its own brands would contain 100% Canadian milk and dairy ingredients, and bear the Dairy Farmers of Canada “Quality Milk” certification logo. Agropur products displaying the logo will make their appearance on grocery store shelves in the coming week.

The company also launched a new resarch and development drive, Inno Agropur, an open invitation for people to submit ideas for fair innovation. More than 60 participants submitted projects and three concepts have been selected for co-development in the coming weeks, with cash grants and access to the co-op’s research facilities.

The year saw Agropur focus on integrating recent acquistions but the co-op still invested  $150m in its manufacturing facilities in Canada and the US – notably an increase in feta cheese production capacity at its Weyauwega plant in Wisconsin. This strengthened Agropur’s position as leading feta producer in the US.

The recent acquisition of Scotsburn’s assets will expand Agropur’s footprint in the ice cream and novelties market, the company added.

The co-op Agropur opened its new head office in Longueuil, Quebec, now home to more than 850 employees.

Founded in 1938, Agropur processes more than 5.9 billion litres of milk per year at its 39 plants across North America and boasts an impressive roster of brands and products including Natrel, Quebon, OKA, Farmers, Agropur Signature, Agropur Grand Cheddar, Island Farms and BiPro.

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