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Chronicles / Between us

Partners in Growth

As we all know, there’s a lot going on in the world right now. Several markets are going through consolidation and companies that choose the status quo are doomed to shrink, or worse, disappear.

La Coop fédérée and its network of affiliated cooperatives have never chosen to be inactive, but thanks to our ability to challenge ourselves we have been able to progress right along with Quebec’s farm industry.

Upon its creation, in 1922, La Coopérative fédérée des agriculteurs de la province de Québec was primarily comprised of firsthand members. It is only in 1930, and often with the assistance of La Coop fédérée, that the notion of a vast network of cooperatives located throughout every region of Quebec became a reality.

The consolidation of agricultural cooperatives isn’t new: It’s been ongoing since the 1950s, a time when La Coop fédérée had nearly 565 member-cooperatives.

Looking forward to 2020, Quebec’s member agricultural producers are basically represented by fewer than 10 cooperatives, and every one is deeply rooted in communities across the province with the resources necessary to ensure their development and their procurement of world-class goods and services.

All through this period, La Coop fédérée has been far from inactive. It had to expand to gain critical mass and to make sure its agricultural producers maintained some level of control over their supply in a world where input manufacturers are disproportionately centralized.

Several strategic planning exercises were held over the years to determine the right path: The strategic plan for the network in 1998; Chrysalide in 2011; the strategic plan for the hardware sector and the BMR acquisition in 2012; the strategic plan for the network in 2013; Vision 2020 in 2015; and La Coop’s organisational transformation in 2016.

We are currently undertaking a new cycle of strategic planning; this time it has a more global approach, one that will address the governance and growth of La Coop fédérée and its network.

These are crucial planning steps for a business that needs to constantly renew itself.  These steps provide a clear orientation that everyone can get behind and they also provide an opportunity to reinforce the notion that growth is inevitable.

However, growth cannot be pursued at any price.  Too many businesses have been jeopardised due to inadequately planned project diversification. At La Coop fédérée, we prioritize investments that extend our value chains and provide us with a more significant critical mass. This is exactly what our Agriculture Division has achieved so far with the purchase of the Cargil installations and the acquisition of Standard Nutrition Company. The IFFCO project, for the production of urea is also a good example, so are Olymel’s acquisitions and partnerships.

Thanks to the know-how of our upcoming acquisitions and projects, we will increase our critical mass, maximise synergy and develop our overall expertise.

Our predecessors had the right idea; set up a large network of companies to supply, help and share with one another. They probably didn’t expect their endeavours to last through the 21st century. The generations before us gave us so much. We need to lead by example and give to our future generations.

To carry out this ambition, we need to continue to build a solid, prosperous, responsive and resilient network.

As I expressed in my April editorial, La Coop fédérée and its network developed a strategic development plan to ensure its growth, continuity and future. 

Growth inevitably comes from acquisitions, business partnerships and improvements to the efficacy of our work methods. Our goal: To combine the strength of the group with the performance of our network to serve you as best we can and contribute to the growing profitability of your agricultural businesses.

Enjoy your summer!

Ghislain Gervais - président