Euralis changing the face of French agriculture since 1936

Euralis is one of the most successful agricultural co-operatives in France and has played a major role in the country’s agricultural development.

Euralis is one of the most successful agricultural co-operatives in France and has played a major role in the country’s agricultural development.

Today co-operatives represent more than 40 per cent of the French food sector; this means more than €82 billion turnover a year and more than 150,000 employees. Furthermore, three quarters of farmers belong to a co-operative.

Christian Pèes, President of Euralis Group said co-operation is a core element in ensuring progress in agriculture. “I believe this is primordial. In France, it is obvious: co-operation has literally shaped the face of agriculture,” he said.

Mr Pèes continued: “Co-operation is in fact a simple idea: doing together what one cannot do by oneself. It implies taking joint actions to address the market’s deficits. In today’s agricultural context and difficult economy with shifting prices and tight competition, this solidarity seems essential. We have to join forces and co-operate, it is mostly a moral question”.

Euralis took a great risk a few years back when it decided to cultivate hemp — a relative of cannabis, which is high in fibre. Hemp can be grown for a number of uses such as plastics. The co-op spent a lot of money investing in new machinery to be able to change the hemp plant into something useful.

“Our main objective as a co-operative is to serve the interests of our members. If Euralis has a duty to achieve economic performance, it also has a social and territorial mission: to sustain the holdings of the Southwest farmers, to develop their skills and to maintain employment in our area.

“Our criterion is not solely financial. Cultivating hemp is a good example. On short term it is not very rentable and we still lack visibility. But on medium term, hemp answers the desires of our members, that is to position ourselves within the innovative and emerging market of biomaterials.

“This was a risk that the co-operative could take and sustain. To meet the needs of farmers, we support and structure the chain from upstream to downstream.”

Referring to the International Year of Co-operatives, Christian Pèes said the efforts to promote the co-operative model must continue after the end of the year. He said co-operatives play a major role in the economic recovery, but their contribution will continue to be of major importance even after the economy recovers from the crisis.

“The co-operative, like any business, must meet the market’s demands and be competitive. And in the current difficult and very competitive global economic climate, we are committed to improving our competitiveness. It is our goal. Creating a reactive group and achieving performance remain real challenges, both in terms of governance, management and economic and financial terms,” Christian Pèes said.

Euralis also places a strong emphasis on environmental concerns. “Our challenge today is to produce even more, but produce even better,” concluded Mr Pèes.

Euralis has 15,000 farmers and 5,000 employees, and is a leader in the European agricultural and food market. Ever since its creation in 1936, the co-operative has sought to bring innovation to the agricultural sector, creating and consolidating brands with distinct strengths. 

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