Major consolidation has taken place in France’s beef cuts market with Bigard, in association with the Alliance co-operative group, buying Vital, the holding company controlling packaged steaks specialist Charal.

Brittany-based family firm Bigard currently has a 49% shareholding in Vital and is planning to take full control by the start of next year.

The deal will lead to the creation of a French leader in the sector, representing a turnover of between EUR2.3bn and EUR2.8bn and employing up to 10,500 staff – surpassing the previous No.1, co-operative Socopa.

One analyst said the takeover could re-launch alliance talks between Socopa and another large co-op in the sector, Terrena Viande.