Hypor may not be a household name in Saskatchewan, but perhaps it should be.

The international pig breeding company recently signed joint venture agreements with two of China's largest agri-business companies. The agreements with Sichuan South Hope Company Ltd. (New Hope) and Shandong Liuhe Group Co., Ltd. (Liuhe) are for the production and distribution of breeding pigs in China.

“Our Chinese partners have access to the market, and we have the pigs and the technology,” Hypor Chief Marketing Officer Marc Broadbent said. “Together, you could say we have a winning team.”

The investment involves 600 pigs in each joint venture, worth about $2 million, and will produce six million slaughter pigs per year. There is also investment in the farms, equipment and land.

Hypor will supply the pigs from the three barns it operates in Saskatchewan.

“For Hypor as a whole, Saskatchewan is a very important part of the business. The barns located in Saskatchewan are very healthy, as are the animals, due to low populations of people and pigs. This is an ideal place for breeding, raising and distributing pigs all over the world.”

For Broadbent, the agreement is a reward after a major investment of time and effort. Lately, he has travelled to China monthly.

“To come up with a deal like this takes a lot. New Hope was a company that I was doing business with when I was working for a previous employer. So it took two jobs, in a way, to achieve this,” Broadbent said.

“It also took several generations. My father worked in agriculture in China before me. You can appreciate the importance of adaptation to the culture, and the importance of understanding the local culture through living and working overseas for a number of years. The Chinese are tough negotiators and dealing with them in business can be very demanding. But perseverance pays off.”

One of the greatest assets Hypor has is the way in which being Canadian opens a lot of doors, Broadbent said.

“China has a strong affinity for Canada as a brand itself. It is not just Hypor that sold these pigs. It is also Canada that sold these pigs. It is a result of the strong relationship between Canada and China,” he said.

Saskatchewan will benefit over the long run from the initial delivery of pigs, Broadbent said. Some of Hypor’s employees will go over to China to deliver technical service and follow-up, and the breeding program will be supported from Saskatchewan over the long term.

In hindsight, Broadbent is also appreciative of the vision companies like Genex had when they started breeding pigs in the province.

“Genex had a lot of foresight putting their business here because of the low populations of pigs and people. There will always be a strong pig breeding business in Saskatchewan,” he said. “When we put that seed stock into another country, the idea is to create another Saskatchewan, in a way, where those pigs can then support their local area.”