The Even group is doing well and investing

Groupe Even : Nouvelle usine High Tech Laïta à Créhen. Crédit photo : Laïta

The Even group (in Ploudaniel; 6,110 employees; 2017 sales: €2.2 billion; 1370 member farmers) is consolidated around flagship brands and four complementary business lines: Even Amont (farm management consulting, dairy production, agro-supply, animal nutrition and pig genetics), Laïta (consumer goods, health nutrition, products for catering professionals and ingredients for industry), Even Distribution (home sales and HRD) and Even Développement (frozen ready meals, salted meats).

The group has 98 subsidiaries worldwide and serves customers in more than 110 countries. Growing by 4% in 2017 in a context of overproduction and saturation of the milk market, the group is doing well and is benefiting its members with a 15% increase in the purchase price of milk, or about €325/1,000L. In 2017, 30 young producers joined the cooperative and 90 jobs were created, making the group the 9th largest employer in Bretagne.


Laïta is investing in its production tools

A year ago, Laïta (2,750 employees; turnover: €1.2 billion, of which 31% for export; brands: Paysan Breton, Régilait, Mamie Nova), the 8th-largest European dairy cooperative, inaugurated its new high-tech factory dedicated to the production of infant milk and premium powder in Créhen.

This new unit required an investment of €80 million and employs 80 people. Inspired by pharmaceutical standards, this facility is an essential step in Laïta’s international development with a production capacity of 30,000 tonnes of powder per year. In addition to the drying tower, it has a packaging workshop with a capacity of 15,000 tonnes per year and an internal analysis laboratory, which enable to handle the milk from 3,250 farms collected in the West of France.

Every year, Laïta collects 1.5 billion litres of milk. With this plant, Laïta should be able to face up to market volatility and makes the bet that the context of overproduction and market saturation will be short-lived. Global demand is again up by 15% to 20%. Laïta is focusing in particular on China, where infant milk consumption continues to grow. The group is awaiting approval. Laïta is also interested in Africa and the main international chocolate makers. With its brands, including Paysan Breton, Mamie Nova and Régilait, the group also provides its own outlets.

In 2018, Laïta also invested in several of its sites: €20 million in its Ploudaniel cheese dairy (which produces Emmental cheese) to set up a new workshop; €10 million in Ancenis for milk powders; €20 million for the two butter factories in Landerneau and Ancenis. Finally, Laïta is launching new soft cheeses for snacking and aperitifs.


Support for start-ups

Last summer, the Even group selected the 5 winners of its Even’up competition, whose objective is to promote the emergence of start-ups in the food industry. Two are Breton: Kolectou (Rennes) – ready-to-use Tadaam! pastry preparations, based on the bread surpluses of companies in the West of France; Cook&Be (in Mellac) – an intelligent application dedicated to dietary rebalancing.

These start-ups benefit from personalised support from experts, a global allocation of €150k, membership of the Valorial competitiveness hub, possible integration into the “Village by CA 29” (Crédit Agricole startup acceleration initiative) and easier access to the market.

It should be noted that the group also has stakes (€100 million) in the French Food Capital investment fund, which supports the growth of innovative SMEs and mid-tier companies in the food technology sector.


Sources : The Even Group, Lettre API – 14/11/2017, La France Agricole – 04/12/2017, Les Echos – 06/12/2017, Ouest France – 06/04/2018, Bretagne Economique – 13/07/2018

Photo credit : Laïta