FRANCE – Agrial, a French agri-food co-operative, has yet again snapped up another charcuterie business, Rochebillard et Blein, adding it to its portfolio, for an undisclosed amount.

Rochebillard et Blein, based in Violay, markets cold cuts such as dry sausage, hams, and pancetta.

Agrial highlighted that the “majority” of its new assets’ 2,000 tons of products are sold under “quality” marks such as Label Rouge.

As part of the deal, the French cooperative said Condemine will remain to be part of Rochebillard et Blein to provide “operational management and also be a shareholder in the business.

According to Agrial, the acquired firm has a turnover of around EUR28million (US$28.6M) and owns three factories, two in Violay and one close to the Swiss border in Taninges.

Stéphane Poyac, the CEO of Agrial’s meats division stated: “As the co-operative has been present on the dry charcuterie market for a year with Salaisons du Mâconnais.”

This acquisition allows us to strengthen our position in this sector with two new product categories, dry ham, and dry cured meats.”

The acquisition of the charcuterie business comes on the heels of the purchase of Reilhe Martin company to reinforce its meat division’s presence in the poultry market.

Reilhe Martin focuses on supplying poultry and meat under what Agrial calls “quality labels”, including the official Label Rouge certification.

The moves by Agrial are timely as the French meat market is projected to continue to grow due to the increasing consumption rate of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food products.

The meat flavors trend is expanding and further incorporating meat processing methods such as glazing and braising shifting the consumers’ taste preferences, which is also fueling the market growth.

Market Research Reports forecast the French meat market which had total revenues of US$45.9billion in 2020 to a value of US$50.6bn growing at a CAGR of 2% between the period 2020-2025.

Last year, Agrial, which is looking to expand its meat business through Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of SMEs, bought French charcuterie business Salaisons du Mâconnais.

The company stated that since it was exclusively present in cooked charcuterie, Salaisons du Mâconnais acquisition would allow it to gain a foothold in the dry charcuterie sector and accelerate its export development.

In 2019, the co-op bought La Bresse and Sibert, two French SMEs making products including black pudding, ham, head products, and andouillettes.

Two years earlier, Agrial had also acquired Brittany charcuterie firms Brient and Tallec.

Overall, Agrial booked a turnover of EUR6.2bn in 2021, employing 22,200 staff across more than 100 production sites in 11 markets.

 In 2021, some 40% of the co-op’s turnover came from the dairy sector, with meat accounting for 9%.

Agrial is in competition with the likes of Avigros which is based at the giant Rungis wholesale market in the south of Paris and markets its poultry all over the world.

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