Coren was founded in 1959, by the hand of Mr Eulogio Gómez Franqueira, a teacher, politician and businessman who was firmly convinced that the Galician countryside could be profitable.
That same year, he was appointed as the manager of the Territorial Union of Ourense Cooperatives (UTECO) and, by means of his initiative and leadership, he convinced 20 families to create the first cooperative and build the first farm with 5,000 chickens.
In 1962, UTECO set up the Cattle Provincial Cooperative. It bought the day-old chicks and the feed from Swift, a company based in the United States.
However, in 1965, they decided to become independent from the American company and started working alone. In order to achieve that, they started up their own production structure: a poultry slaughterhouse, a feed mill and the first hatchery in Galicia.
At the same time, they started out working within the dairy cattle market.
In 1970, the Dairy and Egg Sorting Plant was built in San Cibrao das Viñas industrial estate (Ourense). Coren kept on growing and, in 1975, the second feed mill in San Cibrao das Viñas industrial estate was inaugurated.
During the following years, the cooperative would reach the pig farming market and, in 1979, it acquired the Louro Refrigeration Industries (Frigolouro) plant in Porriño, which is actually its Pig Processing Centre headquarters and also includes the Canning and Ready Meals Factory. At this time, the first commercial establishments selling roasted chicken and ready meals also appeared. They would result in Coren Grill, the group’s ready meals chain.
Such was the cooperative’s growth, that when it turned into Cooperativas Orensanas (Coren) –the name by which it is known today– in 1980, it had a turnover of 15 billion pesetas (90 million euros).
Coren’s founder, Eulogio Gómez Franqueira, was in charge of the cooperative until 1984, when he had to retire due to an illness.
Due to that, his son Manuel Gómez-Franqueira, who had incorporated to Coren a decade before, took over the group’s general management. His big challenge was preparing the cooperative for the new framework that entailed entering the common European market.
In fact, in 1987, Coren took charge of the representation before the EEC of every Spanish chicken and egg producer for four years. In parallel with the entry into the EEC, Coren Group started a reorganisation to increase the size and diversification of the farms, thus acquiring the competitiveness that new times demanded.
Under the management of Manuel Gómez-Franqueira, the Coren Group continued its exponential growth.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Coren had doubled its turnover in comparison with its turnover at the beginning of the previous decade, by reaching 30 billion pesetas (180 million euros).
Nevertheless, during those years, the cooperative had to face the challenge of guaranteeing the continuation of the generational handover that was happening in many of the farms that had been firstly set up. For that purpose, it started up the big production groups, such as Ladeira, A Piuca, A Ponte, Seoane, Altapedra or Unimiño, with over 300,000 chickens each.
Also in the 1990s, Coren undertook the Calves Plan in order to be positioned within the beef production sector by also joining Ternera Gallega.
In 1995, the cooperative incorporated the plant in Frigsa (Lugo) to its structure. The plant was renamed into Novafrigsa and it is currently Coren’s Cattle Processing Centre and ham drying headquarters.
Besides, it incorporated two more plants from Lugo: the former Uteco Lugo and the Coaga cooperative, which allowed the group having a wider presence within the nutrition and feed production areas. Additionally, in 1997, the then Prince Felipe –currently King Felipe VI– inaugurated the Hatching Technology Centre, situated in the Technology Park of Galicia.
It is also in the 1990s when the development of added value products began, with a breeding that gives priority to animal welfare and open-air spaces, such as free-range productions (free-range chicken and eggs, in which Coren is currently a leader).
During that decade, Coren was a pioneer in the traceability implementation with the use of control systems that allowed guaranteeing the production process quality from beginning to end –from the product’s origin until its arrival to consumers–.
Coren started its international expansion at the beginning of the 1990s with its arrival to Portugal and the creation of Lourinho Conservas de Carne Ltda. A distribution platform was firstly created in Oporto and in 1997, the second plant was inaugurated in Lisbon, with capacity for product transformation and distribution in southern Portugal.
In the year 2000, the group reached a turnover of more than 100 billion pesetas (600 million euros). During the first years of the 21st century, Coren continued enlarging its production capacity with the new feed mill in Bonxe (inaugurated in 2003), which became the most modern plant of its category in Europe.
In 2006, the Poultry Processing Centre was inaugurated in Santa Cruz de Arrabaldo (Ourense). It is a modern factory as well as one of the most advanced ones in its sector in Europe due to its magnitude and avant-garde features.
The inauguration was attended by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía.
In the 2000s, the group reinforced its product diversification model (it had over 2,000 references), its continuous innovation and expansion in the international market, which allowed Coren positioning as the first agro-food cooperative in Spain. In 2009, it reached a turnover volume of 1 billion euros for the first time. This figure would be maintained despite the economic crisis that Spain underwent during those years.
In terms of internationalisation, in the first decade of the 21st century, Coren took the leap to Argentina with the setting up of another distribution centre and continued entering new markets as diverse as Great Britain, Angola, Japan, Korea or Brazil.
In the present decade, the company keeps on setting new milestones. In 2012, within its development line of added value products, Coren launched the Selecta product range that includes pork meat coming from pigs fed with chestnuts. It is a unique category in the market, which became really successful among the consumers from the very beginning.
In 2013, the expansion of the ham drying facilities in Lugo was finished, granting room for a million pieces a year.
At the end of that year, Coren arrived in the Vatican City after sending the star product from its Christmas product range: the Convent Prime Chicken for Pope Francis’ Christmas Eve dinner.
Currently, Coren continues working with a single objective: offering its customers 100% Galician products of the highest quality.
Strengthening its leadership within the national market –particularly for added value products such as free-range chicken, free-range eggs or pork meat coming from pigs fed with chestnuts– and continuing its international expansion are the challenges on which the group is putting all of its efforts to keep on growing.