Dutch companies set foot on French poultry market

The Dutch group Plukon, a leading player in the European poultry meat market, has set foot on the French poultry market with the acquisition of DUC S.A., a French producer of certified poultry.

At the same time, a much smaller Dutch meat trading company Wegdam bought another French poultry processor Tilly-Sabco.

Plukon, which has 13 locations in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and a turnover of some €1.4 billion, has acquired the shares in listed-company DUC from its major shareholders as well as new shares issued by DUC. CEO Peter Poortinga said: ”The acquisition of DUC enables Plukon Food Group to further implement its retail strategy in France as a national producer. The current growth plans in France are strengthened as a result of this acquisition.”

“Both Plukon Food Group and DUC have a strong focus on high quality, fresh products for the retail market. Both are working on new concepts to improve animal welfare and to reduce the use of antibiotics. The DUC product portfolio is a good addition to the product portfolio of Plukon Food Group. The new group will continue the co-operation with DUC’s poultry farmers and is open for further expansion,” Plukon said in a statement.

DUC has 4 production sites in France and a small production location within Bulgaria. The latter offers Plukon to realise one of its aims, to start activities in Eastern Europe. DUC has a weekly slaughter volume of 600 thousand chicken and 30 thousand turkeys with a workforce of around 800 people and a turnover of some €180 million. The company, which went through some financial restructuring in recent years, reported a loss of €5,59 million over the first half of 2016 compared to just over €1,1 million loss in the same period in 2015.

At the same time, Wegdam Food Link, a small Dutch company specialising in meat trade to Africa, bought Brittany-based poultry company Tilly-Sabco out of bankruptcy. Wegdam only took a chicken-sausage factory with 61 employees but was still the favourite choice of the trade tribunal. The new Dutch owner wants to expand the French activities, including a new distribution centre in the nearby port town of Brest.

The moves are the last steps in a long game of concentration and re-organisation in the French poultry sector. Things started rolling in 2013, when the European Commission decided to stop subsidising the export of frozen chicken to so-called third countries. Two French companies, Groupe Doux and Tilly-Sabco, were the main benefactors of the EU-support and both got into trouble when the money stopped coming in. Groupe Doux was first rescued by its main customer, Saudi-based food company Al-Munajem together with a French investor and the regional Chamber of Commerce. Last year, the group was bought by Terrena, one of the leading French agricultural cooperatives, which merged it with its own poultry business Gastronome.

Meanwhile, Groupe Avril, another large co-operative formerly known as Sofiproteol, sold its poultry activities to LDC, with an annual turnover of over €3,5bn by far the largest player on the French market. Both Terrena and LDC at the time announced their intention to fight the increasing import of chicken and other poultry meat into France. ‘’We want to recover at least 20% of the market share currently in the hands of foreign suppliers,’’ LDC said. The poultry giant, like DUC listed on the Paris stock exchange, hopes to benefit from its main brands like Maitre Coq, Le Gaulois and Loué, which have a strong presence in nearly all French supermarkets.

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