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Finnish meat firm Atria may sell Russian operations

A weak rouble and high raw material costs have put pressure on the Finnish meat producer's business in Russia.

Työntekijät pakkaavat joulukinkkuja pusseihin.
File photo of workers packing Christmas hams at an Atria meat processing plant. Image: Olli Koski / Yle

Meat and poultry producer Atria may sell its Russian operations, the company announced on Thursday. The company said business there has been hurt by the weak rouble and high raw material costs.

Atria said that its goal is to quickly revitalise its Russian business operations, but noted that it is also investigating the possibility of divesting the unit.

“That is one alternative. We will look into each of them, and whether to sell all of the Russian business or parts of it,” said chief executive Juha Gröhn.

Atria Russia makes up five percent of the group's total turnover and when it entered the Russian market in 2005, the company had high expectations.

Russian troubles

”Our business there has not developed as expected,” Gröhn said.

According to him, the rouble-euro exchange rate has been unfavourable and the local raw materials expensive. Because of the ongoing countersanctions by Russia on EU food imports, that are related to the Ukraine conflict, Finland cannot export meat to be processed in its Russian plants.

“The price of Russian meat rose 30 percent between 2017 and last year,” Gröhn said.

Atria’s annual profits totalled 28 million euros in 2018, down from 41 million the previous year. In addition to Finland and Russia, the group has operations in Sweden, Denmark and Estonia.

Last week, Atria's competitor HKScan said it plans to terminate up to 220 jobs in a savings effort.

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