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Olymel to run Coop federee’s hog farmer services

Quebec’s biggest agrifood company plans to put its services for hog farmers — such as hog herd management, animal welfare and meat quality and its swine genetics arm — under the wing of its meat packing business.

La Coop federee, Quebec’s federation of ag co-operatives, announced Friday it will make those operations, including those of its Sogeporc hog genetics subsidiary and its Technical Services division for hog farmers, a responsibility of its pork and poultry packing firm, Olymel.

The new structure “will help strengthen synergies arising from (Olymel’s) expansion,” such as its takeover last January of Saskatchewan hog producer Big Sky Farms, Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau said in a Coop federee release.

Olymel didn’t have a direct interest in hog production until buying Big Sky, which had gone into receivership in September 2012. The sale made Olymel Canada’s third biggest hog farming company, with a herd of 42,000 sows producing about a million hogs a year.

“This reorganization is the result of a strategic review undertaken jointly with Olymel in order to better respond to changes in our pork industry,” Coop federee CEO Claude Lafleur said in the same release.

“We now feel assured that the valuable expertise acquired over the years at Sogeporc and Technical Services in the field of swine production will remain within La Coop fédérée. Sogeporc’s mission will be maintained within Olymel, while the co-operative pork industry and proprietary hog programs, including the Coop certified Pork program, will be further strengthened.”

Sogeporc’s 50 staff, and those working at Technical Services, will formally become Olymel employees, Coop federee said.

To “better manage these new responsibilities,” Olymel has set up a new position, vice-president for swine production for Eastern Canada. Robert Brunet has been named to that post, effective Monday (Jan. 27).

Olymel, which has slaughter capacity for about 160,000 hogs per week, operates nine pork packing and processing plants in Quebec, a bacon plant at Cornwall, Ont. and a primary hog slaughter plant at Red Deer, Alta.

The reorganization “reflects the commitment we share with our owners to bring livestock and processing operations together in order to achieve greater coordination of our company’s operations,” Nadeau said in Friday’s release. — Network

Related stories:
Olymel gets Big Sky as no other buyers appear, Jan. 9, 2013
High feed costs push Big Sky into receivership, Sept. 11, 2012

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