Agropur sees strong growth in the US and Canada despite headwinds

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Agropur CEO said it owes its strong fiscal performance to its constant focus on innovation and efficiency.
Agropur CEO said it owes its strong fiscal performance to its constant focus on innovation and efficiency.

Related tags Milk

Despite growing competition in Canada’s dairy market and volatile prices in the US, Agropur registered a 7.7% year-over-year sales growth for FY17 with reported sales of C$6.4bn (US$5.1bn).

The dairy cooperative, which processed nearly 6.1bn liters of milk in 2017, credits its annual growth to its multiple facility investments, focus on dairy innovation, and acquisition of ice cream manufacturer Scotsburn.

"We are showing profitable growth on both sides of the border,"​ Agropur CEO Robert Coallier said. "We owe this success to our constant focus on innovation, our quest for efficiency, and the strength of our brands.”

Agropur invested more than C$174m (US$139m) in its facilities in 2017, including C$133m (US$106m) in Canada. In the US, the cooperative has plans to expand its cheese-manufacturing plant in Lake Norden, South Dakota, tripling its processing capacity in the region.

Brand equity growth

Agropur’s Natrel milk brand maintained its majority market majority in the organic milk category with a 64% share. Additionally, the OKA brand registered an 83% growth in sales volume since 2014.

“Agropur's goal is to make OKA cheese to Canada what Brie and Camembert are to France, Gouda to the Netherlands and Gruyere to Switzerland,”​ the company said.

Yogurt brand iögo now holds a 13.9% market share in Canada, growing twice as fast as the category, according to Agropur.

Innovation focus

During its annual general meeting, Agropur highlighted that its focus on innovation remains a core focus for the company.

In addition to its second edition of the Inno Challenge, Agropur and investment firm Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (la Caisse) have formed a C$40m (US$31.9m) joint investment platform that will go towards developing businesses within the dairy industry.

The investment platform will be funded equally between Agropur and la Caisse and funding will go towards innovative businesses specializing in dairy-related products and technologies.

The criteria for investment in innovative dairy-related business will be companies that demonstrate a “high potential for solid financial performance”​ led by solid management team and a business model focused on innovation.

“With this new platform, we are targeting innovation-oriented businesses that will help bring new vigor to the dairy industry,”​ Coallier said.

“This platform will enable companies serving the agri-food sector — a key driver of the Québec economy — to obtain the funding necessary to stay at the cutting edge,"​ executive vice-president of la Caisse, Christian Dubé, said.

Related news