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The Numbers Behind Our People

Montréal, Thursday, February 19, 2004 – Mr. Pierre Gauvreau, Coopérative fédérée de Québec’s Chief Executive Officer, presented the results of the fiscal year ended November 1, 2003 at Le Centre Sheraton Montréal Hotel this morning. “The Cooperative recorded sales of $2.755 billion for the past year, up from the $2.480 billion in the previous year”, said Mr. Gauvreau.

The $275 million increase in sales resulted from the general growth in volumes and rising prices for several activities of the Cooperative’s divisions and subsidiaries.

For the same period, the Cooperative reported operating earnings before taxes and patronage refunds of $26.1 million, compared with $42.5 million in the previous year. Its operating earnings were therefore down $16.4 million compared with 2002. “The Cooperative’s 2003 performance was affected by unfavourable market conditions in the hog sector, particularly in the second and third quarters. However, results growth in other sectors readily offset hog-sector losses,” added Mr. Gauvreau.

As at November 1, 2003, the Cooperative’s consolidated balance sheet showed total assets of $754 million, compared with $770 million last year. This decrease results primarily from the reduction in Olymel L.P.’s inventory, due to a decline in Canadian poultry supply and lower hog-slaughtering levels in the last few months of the fiscal year. Once again, the network of affiliated cooperatives remained loyal and contributed significantly to the positive results achieved.

Today, the Cooperative represents over 50,000 members in 97 cooperatives ranging from agricultural cooperative to consumer coops and processing coops. These cooperatives satisfy the many varied needs of farm producers and consumers who have joined forces to enjoy access to high-quality products and services at competitive prices. In addition, as a wholesaler, the Cooperative provides farm producers in Québec, Ontario and New Brunswick with the goods and services they need to run their business, including petroleum products. The Cooperative also processes and markets various farm products such as pork and poultry meat on local and international markets. It operates through its own divisions and subsidiaries or through interests in other enterprises.

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Source : Caroline Morin
Communications Consultant
Tel.: 514-858-2048
Email : [email protected]



APPENDIX

MEATS
Olymel L.P. is Canada’s leader at both the national and international levels in the slaughtering, processing and marketing of pork and poultry meat products, which are distributed across Canada and exported to over 40 countries around the world.

For the year ended November 1, 2003 Olymel L.P. recorded sales of $1.847 billion compared with $1.690 billion last year. This sales increase is attributable to higher hog-slaughtering levels in Québec and Red Deer, as well as an interest in Prince Foods, L.P.

Olymel L.P. incurred a significant loss in the hog sector for the same period, primarily as a result of high inventory levels worldwide and the soaring value of the Canadian dollar, which led to a substantial reduction in gross margins from exports. In the poultry sector, the reduction in the chicken and turkey production levels in Canada starting in the first six months had a positive impact on prices and strengthened our gross margins in the second half of 2003. Consequently, poultry sector results improved over 2002.

Due to the difficult economic conditions in the hog sector, Olymel L.P.’s consolidated results were markedly lower than those of the previous year, which gave rise to streamlining measures during the year to limit cash outflows related to both operations and investments. These measures proved successful and lessened the impact of the situation in the final months of the year.


PETROLEUM
The Cooperative’s Sonic Petroleum Division is the largest independent petroleum products distributor in Québec. After 45 years in operation, its mission continues to be to ensure the competitive marketing of a full range of petroleum products and services that meet the needs of customers located primarily in rural and semi-urban areas.

The Sonic Petroleum Division’s sales totalled $280 million, compared with $212 million in 2002. This sales increase is the result of higher selling prices directly related to the higher cost of petroleum inputs, along with improved sales volumes of nearly 14%. These higher volumes represent the combined effect of several factors, in particular the impact of acquisitions made in recent years, development activities with affiliated cooperatives and market growth in general. The Division’s operating earnings were significantly higher than last year with all departments contributing to this improvement.

In July 2003, the Chief Executive Officer announced the merger of the Sonic Petroleum and Farm Supply Divisions, effective November 1, 2003. This initiative is designed to create a network approach in order to better meet the needs of the cooperatives and their members, foster synergy, and develop upcoming managers, while consolidating the executive team from both Divisions.


FARM SUPPLY
The Farm Supply Division has 450 facilities serving its 50,000 members. To support the Division’s activities, 350 agronomers and agricultural technologists throughout the province offer technical support, among other things, to agricultural producers with respect to animal and crop productions as well as environmental matters.

The Farm Supply Division’s sales rose from $587 million last year to $632 million in 2003. This $45 million increase is due to higher sales volumes in most of its sectors. The Division’s earnings were slightly higher than last year.

More specifically, the results for the year ended November 1, 2003 include those of AgriEst, Centre agricole Coop for 12 months of operations and those of the Centre agricole Coop de la Matapédia for five months of operations ended March 29, 2003, at which point it became an autonomous cooperative. Sales as at November 1, 2003 totalled $17.3 million compared with $30.7 million in 2002. The decrease in sales, as well as in net contribution, can be attributed to the return to autonomy of the Centre agricole Coop de la Matapédia in March 2003 and that of Profid’Or in December 2001.


FINANCIAL POSITION
As at November 1, 2003, Coopérative fédérée de Québec’s consolidated balance sheet showed total assets of $754 million, compared with $770 million last year. This decrease results primarily from the reduction in Olymel L.P.’s inventory, due to the fact that Canadian poultry supply was down and lower hog-slaughtering levels in the last few months of the fiscal year. This reduction was partially offset by higher accounts receivable, mainly in the Farm Supply Division where sales in all sectors increased.

Working capital as at November 1, 2003 was $128 million, compared with $124 million last year, with ratios of 1.53 and 1.48 respectively. As at November 1, 2003, the Cooperative’s equity stood at $183.2 million.


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