ABF revenues increase despite sugar losses

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Associated british foods, Africa

Associated British Foods today reported 13 per cent revenue growth
for the 13 weeks ending 5 January 08, however the overall results
were marred by a poor performance from the sugar sector.

The UK-based company, one of the major European sugar manufacturers, is still struggling to come to terms with the outfall of the EU-wide reforms, aimed at increasing competitiveness in the bloc. In order to combat the stricter reforms, the company cut its quota by 13.5 per cent or 193,000 tonnes last year, and moved a significant proportion of its operations to emerging markets. However in today's interim management statement, the company said that overall sugar revenues had fallen 12 per cent compared to the same period of 2006. The loss was blamed mainly on the fallout form EU sugar reforms, despite a 'record' crop in Poland. ABF also claimed that poor weather conditions in Africa had resulted in a lower crop than expected. "Sugar production in southernAfricawill be lower than expected as high rainfall levels have made it impossible to harvest all available cane,"​ the company said. "This has particularly affectedSouth AfricaandZambia." ​Nevertheless, ABF reiterated plans to expand into emerging markets in the statement, such as the £100m (€139m) expansion of subsidiary Illovo Sugar's facilities in Mali, first announced in November. The company also acquired 11 additional sugar beet factories in China, and "the campaign is going well".​ The other food divisions fared significantly better, however, and grocery revenues increased 15 per cent from the same period one year previously. Allied bakeries, which last year experienced profit losses because of commodity costs, improved 'significantly', and the company said it increased customer prices over the 16 week period to cover the expense of wheat in particular. The performance of 'new world' brands - which include Blue Dragon and Patak's - was described as 'encouraging'. In the ingredients division, revenue went up 16 per cent, while agriculture profits increased 20 per cent. However, it was the non-food related business that pushed ABF's profits up this year, as sales of Primark clothes and accessories were 26 per cent higher than the same period one year earlier.

Related topics: Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar

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