Atria Finland has gained its first ever export licence to China in a deal that CEO Juha Gröhn described as a “very important day” in the company’s 114-year history.
Gröhn declined to comment on how much the deal was worth and if it would lead to new jobs for the Finnish meat processor. He did tell this site that the company expected to export “remarkable volumes” of pork to China in the future, with the first commercial batches due in the first half of 2017.
Atria’s efforts to unlock China have been in the pipeline for over a decade. Gröhn conceded it had taken a “very long time”, but added he was “very happy” to have reached the final stage.
Growth in sales, production
Chinese licensing officials have now cleared the way for Atria’s pork plant in Nurmo, Finland, to ship pigmeat China. Earlier in the year, Atria committed an investment of €36m to modernise the facility, leading to 80 job losses.
While the business was not able to comment on whether the deal with China would lead to new jobs, Gröhn told this site: “We have an opportunity to adapt our business and be flexible – hopefully we can increase production and sales in the future. This is a huge opportunity for us and it is a very import day for Atria.”
Gröhn said he was expecting a “very interesting journey” as the business enters a new chapter of its global trading agenda. “Of course we will have to fine-tune the product range with consumers as we have to adapt to the Chinese market and be in line with consumer eating habits,” he added.
Atria will now enter talks with partners in China to determine the range of pork products it will ship to China. This will start with a pilot load of pork being exported, before commercial loading begins in the first half of 2017.
In a statement on the news, Gröhn said: “Negotiations with Chinese and Finnish licensing authorities were successful. Authorities are convinced of Atria’s high quality. We now have a unique opportunity to enter the Chinese market and expand our business in a new market area. At this point, we do not yet know the future economic impact.”
Atria is one of Finland’s largest meat processors, producing beef, pork and poultry meat. It has operations in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Russia and now China.