France’s largest group in pig production has been formed with the enlargement of a union of co-operatives known as Initia in the Brittany region of the country. Already comprising the 3 co-ops Porfimad, Poraven and Léon-Tréguier, the ‘new Initia’ now also includes Pigalys with its 700 producers marketing some 1.52 million pigs annually. The inclusion of Pigalys to join the federation takes the total Initia membership to 1300 and raises its annual marketings to 4.2 million pigs/year. Therefore it will represent about 17% of the 25.8 million slaughter pigs produced in France. By its calculations, some 65% of the union’s pigs qualify for the regional quality label Cochon de Bretagne.
Appointed to the presidency of the expanded Initia is Fortuné Le Calvé, president of Pigalys and of the regional pig committee for Brittany. The heads of the other member co-ops become vice-presidents, alongside Bernard Chrétien, head of the west-Brittany pig co-operative Porc Bretagne Ouest.
Formed in 2003 by the 3 founding co-ops Léon-Tréguier, Poraven et Porfimad, the original Initia was a 2.7 million pigs/year federation of producers mainly supplying pigs locally through the Marché du Porc Breton system. But in 2004 it added central purchasing of materials and equipment to its activities, developing this aspect so that by 2007 it was buying 67 000 tons/year of wheat, soya and maize for the feeds of its members and advising them on nutrition. It has also emerged as an exporter of pigs to Germany.
These activities now will be boosted considerably by the entry of Pigalys into the union. The newly joined co-op could claim 73 000 sows on 450 breeding-finishing units. It has also been a key player within French agri-food network Unicopa that manufactures 600 000 tons of pig feeds annually through feed arm Nutréa, slaughters around 500 000 pigs/year at abattoir operator Socopa and produces some 55 000 tons/year of processed meats at processor Brocéliande. Now with Pigalys on board, Initia nurses ambitions of growing its production to 5 million pigs/year.