Etelä-Pohjanmaan Karjanmyyntiosuuskunta Itikka (South Ostrobothnian Livestock Sales Co-operative Itikka) is established in Seinäjoki in 1914. The meeting is attended by conscious farmers and co-operative activists. Actual operations only begin a little later, when the co-operative has enough members.
University graduate Yrjö Collan, who has been involved right from the beginning, is asked to become the co-operative’s first managing director. Operations start with the joint export of slaughter cattle to Sweden, which is why the first place of business is located in Vaasa. During its first year of operation, Itikka trades and slaughters more than 2,000 animals.
The first transactions lead to disappointments, but they also teach valuable lessons for the future. Serving South Ostrobothnian farmers is prudently set as the objective of the operations. The following year, net sales double. In its third year of operation, the co-operative finally gets a permanent director, when Oskari Herttua takes up the post.
Finland’s participation in World War I under Russian rule causes major difficulties for livestock sales. At first, the agency that procures food for the military takes meat by force. Later, requisitions stop when farmers guarantee the voluntary supply of sufficient quantities of meat.
It takes until 1917 that the co-operative is able to properly begin the development of its operations and the further processing of meat.