Mid-January, InVivo ad Soufflet announced that they had begun exclusive negotiations for a merger. The future group will become a giant of French food and distribution, able to compete with the largest European cooperatives.
The agri-food giant InVivo, which unites 192 agricultural cooperatives,is about to acquire the Soufflet group, the largest private grain collector in Europe. The idea of the merger is to create a French agricultural and agri-food colossus of international stature.
“A giant able to rise to the challenges and to address the social, environmental, technological and food-sovereignty issues involving the agricultural and agri-food sectors,” the two groups emphasize in a joint release.
With combined revenue of nearly €10 billion, approximately half of which comes from abroad, the new group will be present in over 30 countries, with more than 90 industrial sites and 12,500 employees. The acquisition of Soufflet – a world leader in flour milling and malt – will allow InVivo to hoist itself to the Number 2 slot among European cooperatives, behind the German BayWa (€16 billion in revenue).
- Precision agriculture –
“The combination of our shared capacity in grain trading will strengthen the new group’s international positioning,” Thierry Blandinières, managing director of the InVivo group says with satisfaction.
“Pairing the powers of these two top-ranking French players should put us in a position to considerably strengthen our quality-label and sustainability offer in terms of wheat, barley and vegetable protein-production, and well as the grape and wine-growing sector.”
The acquisition of Soufflet, which owns such well-known brands as Pomme de pain and Baguépi, will also enable InVivo to become involved in new sectors, including flour milling, processing barley into malt, and industrial baking. Nevertheless, approval from the Commission for Competition will be required to complete the merger, which is scheduled for late 2021.
Committed to digitalized, precision agriculture, which reduces input use, the InVivo group has already begun experimenting on 1,000 farms, testing various digital tools, including remote sensing (e.g. satellite technologies to optimize fertilizer use) and big data. “The 1,000 farms will allow us to test all those new techniques and solutions,” Carole Rocca, the project manager, explains. “They will act as models, demonstrating and accelerating the large-scale roll-out of smart agriculture.”