July 11, 2019 / 9:08 AM / a year ago

French grain cooperatives to merge wheat, barley export activities

PARIS, July 11 (Reuters) - French agricultural groups InVivo, Axereal and NatUp have formed a grain export joint venture in an attempt to improve their competitiveness in overseas markets increasingly dominated by Black Sea producers led by Russia.

The cooperative groups will pool certain export activities in a unit called Grains Overseas, with the aim of shipping 4 million tonnes of soft wheat and feed barley per year outside the European Union, they said in a statement on Thursday.

The unit, in which InVivo will own 60% and Axereal and NatUp 20% each, will notably involve joint grain procurement and the sharing of storage silos, they said.

The joint venture, effective from July, is aiming to handle 2.4 million tonnes in its first marketing season before reaching the 4 million level within two or three years, InVivo Chief Executive Thierry Blandinieres told Reuters by telephone.

Grain procurement would be done through InVivo’s InGrains platform, developed two year ago to attract more competitive grain offers, he said.

Grains Overseas would bring together soft wheat and feed barley traders from InVivo and Axereal’s Granit Negoce trading arm, with each partner continuing to export independently other grain products like maize and durum wheat, Blandinieres said.

InVivo’s CEO had said in January that France’s grain cooperatives should collaborate more closely in exports, including by merging trading desks. (Reporting by Valerie Parent and Gus Trompiz Editing by Bate Felix)

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