When Finland joins the European Union in 1995, Finnish meat production and processing does not collapse – despite such fears. Although imports of foreign meat increase and retail prices of meat products fall considerably, Atria comes out a winner and becomes the country’s leading meat industry company. Its success is based on determined reorganisation and Finnish consumers’ preferences.
Atria – then Itikka-Lihapolar – eliminates overlapping functions and reduces costs by implementing an extensive reorganisation programme. As a consequence, only three out of eleven production plants remain in operation: Nurmo, Kuopio and Kauhajoki.
The first plant to be shut down is a pig slaughterhouse in Oulu right after the merger of Itikka and Lihapolar in 1991. A slaughterhouse and cutting department in Ylivieska are the last plants closed in 1996. Jobs are lost in the provinces.
“Without these moves, Atria would not be what it is today. We were also building something new at the same time,” says Juha Gröhn [linkki vuoteen 2011: Oman talon mies siirtyy johtoon], business development manager and later CEO of Atria, who led the taxing negotiations.
In addition to the reorganisation programme and the new factory in Nurmo, Atria’s success is contributed to by Finnish consumers.
“It seems it is more important to Finns to eat Finnish food than we anticipated,” Esko Aho, then prime minister, describes.