Atria’s inception – the first roots in eastern Finland

Atria’s story begins when the first Finnish meat industry company operating according to the co-operative principles is founded. The company is Kuopion Karjanmyyntiosuuskunta (Kuopio Livestock Sales Co-operative, KKO). 

Farmers want a fair price for meat

Local farmers establish Kuopion Karjanmyyntiosuuskunta (KKO) in 1903, led by Bruno Ilmoniemi, who has been inspired by the co-operative movement. The objective is to guarantee farmers a fair price for meat and an opportunity to earn a living. The co-operative’s founding document contains eight names.

When wood becomes valuable as merchandise and cheap grain begins to stream into the country, grain growing is no longer profitable except for private needs. Land cleared previously by slash and burn provides good pasture for cattle. Since there is also a market for butter, the farm size increases in the Savonia region and farmers begin to produce more meat than they themselves need. As members of the co-operative, farmers have a chance of receiving a fair price and consumers get better quality meat.

As the farming tradition changes and the co-operative philosophy gains ground, a need arises to organise meat trade in a manner satisfactory to producers.

In the early 20th century, much of the food put on the table is grain-based and meat is a rare treat. It becomes even rarer in the 1910s, when Finland must take part in World War I under Russian rule by supplying food to the powerful nation’s troops.