Since 1 January 2018, Apetit has reported its first (Q1) and third (Q3) quarter results as Business Reviews. The Half-year Financial Report (Q2) and Financial Statements Bulletin (Q4) provide more extensive reporting and contain segment information.
The information is unaudited. The figures in parentheses are the equivalent figures for continuing operations for the same period in 2017, and the comparison period means the corresponding period in the previous year, unless otherwise stated.
“Apetit seeks to lead the way in vegetable-based diets. Renewal, one of our strategic focuses, means a continuous stream of new products that interest consumers. This autumn, Apetit again introduced several new, tasty products that enable consumers to increase their consumption of vegetables and make responsible choices.
We brought Finnish fish cakes made from fish caught from a lake as part of fish-stock management to the frozen food sections of retail shops. A vegan version was added to our family of spinach soup products, and a new vegetable mince product was added to our pizza selection. We also included new products in our selection for kids and new vegetable mixes in our Tuorekset product family.
The Group’s net sales increased slightly due to a significant increase in the world market prices of grains. The two most recent harvest seasons have been very exceptional, and the Finnish grain crop in 2018 will be the weakest since 2000. The hot and dry summer also had a negative effect on the Finnish vegetable harvest.
Food Solutions’ result continued to develop favourably due to the increased sales of not only frozen foods, but also fresh products, as well as adjustment and efficiency measures. Oilseed Products’ result remained at the comparison period’s level. Grain Trade’s profitability decreased significantly from the comparison period, due to the second consecutive weak grain crop and its effects on trading opportunities. I’m very pleased with the fact that Food Solutions’ improved performance during this quarter offset the decrease in Grain Trade’s result.
The Group’s strategic focus areas are renewal, efficiency improvement and international operations. Our work to improve profitability and create future growth, even outside Finland, continues within the Group.”
|CONTINUING OPERATIONS, KEY FIGURES|
|Share of profit of associated company Sucros||-0.1||0.1||-1.0||-0.4||1.0|
|Profit for the period||1.1||2.6||-3.4||0.5||2.9|
|Earnings per share, EUR||0.17||0.42||-0.55||0.09||0.46|
|Working capital, at end of period||49.1||39.5||30.0|
|GROUP, KEY FIGURES incl. discontinued operations during comparison period, Seafood|
|Equity per share, EUR||16.73||17.75||18.10|
|Return on capital employed R12 (ROCE), %||0.5%||2.5%||2.4%|
|Net cash flow from operating activities||-18.7||12.2||20.0|
Comparable net sales increased by 3 per cent to EUR 76.6 (74.4) million. Food Solutions’ net sales increased in frozen foods and slightly in fresh products. Grain Trade’s net sales improved due to a significant increase in the world market prices of grains. Oilseed Products’ net sales remained at the comparison period’s level.
Operational EBIT was EUR 1.7 (1.6) million. Food Solutions’ result improved as a result of good sales in frozen foods and fresh products, as well as adjustment and efficiency measures. Grain Trade’s profitability has decreased as a result of the weak crops of 2017 and 2018. Oilseed Products’ profitability remained at the comparison period’s level.
In the comparison period, an item of EUR 1.3 million related to taxes recognised as a result of the divestment of the seafood business had a positive effect on the result.
Comparable net sales declined by 7 per cent to EUR 209.1 (225.3) million. Food Solutions’ net sales remained at the comparison period’s level. Sales increased in frozen foods and fresh products in all sales channels. Net sales from service sales decreased due to the reduction of the sales network. Grain Trade’s net sales decreased year-on-year. Oilseed Products’ net sales remained at the comparison period’s level.
Operational EBIT was EUR -1.1 (0.1) million. Food Solutions and Oilseed Products improved their results slightly from the comparison period. In Grain Trade, profitability decreased significantly, mainly due to weak harvest seasons.
The Group’s liquidity was good, and its financial position is strong. The equity ratio was 63.6 (62.6) per cent, and gearing was 12.3 (8.8) per cent. Consolidated cash flow from operating activities after interest and taxes amounted to EUR -18.7 (12.2) million in January–September, due to an increase in grain stocks and a significant increase in the world market prices of grains.
In accordance with the IAS 2 standard, the historical cost of inventories includes a systematically allocated portion of the fixed production overheads. With production focusing on harvest time, raw materials are mainly processed into finished products during the third and fourth quarters of the year. This means that more fixed production overheads are recognised on the balance sheet in the third and fourth quarters than during the other quarters of the year. Due to this accounting practice, most of the Group’s annual profit is accrued in the third and fourth quarters. The seasonal nature of profit accumulation is most marked in the frozen foods group of the Food Solutions segment and in the associated company Sucros, where crop-season production focuses on the fourth quarter.
The Group’s full-year operational EBIT from continuing operations is expected to decrease from the comparison period (2017: EUR 1.3 million). Due to the seasonal nature of the Group’s operations, most of the annual profit is accrued in the second half of the year. Sales volumes and the profit outlook for 2018 are burdened by the weak harvest of 2017 and the poor harvest outlook for 2018.
For further information, please contact:
Juha Vanhainen, CEO, tel. +358 10 402 00
Apetit is number one in vegetables. It is a food industry company firmly rooted in Finnish primary production. We create well-being with vegetables by offering healthy and tasty food solutions that make daily life easier. We also produce high-quality vegetable oils and rapeseed expellers for feeding stuff, and trade grain on the international markets. Apetit seeks to lead the way in vegetable-based food solutions. Apetit Plc’s shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. In 2017, the company’s net sales were EUR 312 million and it had an average 557 employees. Read more at www.apetitgroup.fi.
Esa Mäki, CEO: “Apetit Group’s first quarter was one of contrasts: the record-breaking profit performance of Food Solutions and Oilseed Products was very pleasing, but the result of the Grain Trade business was a big disappointment. Throughout the first quarter, the sales growth of Food Solutions was the highest in the retail and export segments. The strong retail sales were supported by the increase in eating at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as attractive new products and commercial successes. Our strategically important exports to Sweden have also seen strong growth in line with our targets: the year-on-year increase was 31 per cent. The Food Service channel continues to suffer from the restrictions related to COVID-19, such as the reduced scale of operations in school meal services and lunch restaurants. Our delivery reliability has been very high. Our employees have also largely remained healthy in spite of the prevailing COVID-19 situation. The market situation in the Grain Trade business remained very challenging throughout the first quarter. The profitability of Grain Trade was reduced by unforeseen market changes in the international wheat trade. The export duties introduced by Russia, which gradually entered into force in February–March, increased the supply of wheat in particular in February, leading to a rapid decrease in prices. After the sharp increase in supply in the spring, international demand has declined and a substantial write-down was recognised on the value of Apetit’s wheat inventories in the first quarter. Finnish grain exports have also been lower than usual due to the small harvest. The situation in the Grain Trade is not expected to improve before the next harvest. The total sales of rapeseed oil increased significantly. The strong growth of retail sales supports our strategy of increasing value added. The demand for rapeseed expeller has also been at a good level. The rising market prices of the products improved the refining margin in the first quarter. We are continuing our efforts related to the commercialisation of the rapeseed ingredient. The first customer deliveries for product application testing and test sales will begin in the late summer. Apetit has continued the construction of the Kantvik bioenergy plant with a new contractor starting from the beginning of March. The updated estimate is that the bioenergy plant will be fully operational in summer 2021. The change in supplier and the delay to the original schedule will not have a material impact on the project’s total cost. When completed, the bioenergy plant will reduce the Group’s energy costs and significantly decrease carbon dioxide emissions. Apetit has continued its purposeful efforts to increase the cultivation area and harvest size of oilseed plants in Finland. We have been active in signing cultivation agreements for the next autumn’s harvest and we are making good progress towards achieving the 50 per cent growth target set for increasing the domestic contract cultivation area for the upcoming cultivation season as a whole. The prices of oilseed plants are high, which has increased interest among farmers in the cultivation of oilseed plants. In the field vegetables category, our target for contract growing is the previously established level of just over 30 million kilograms of domestic vegetables. In addition to the cultivation of the familiar varieties we are accustomed to, we are involved in a project to study the development of the cultivation of cauliflower and various legumes, such as chickpeas, to satisfy the needs of the food industry. Our utilisation rate of domestic ingredients is already very high. Developing the production of cauliflower and legumes will give us access to even more domestic plants. As nitrogen-fixing plants, legumes also have considerable potential in crop rotation. Apetit published its updated corporate responsibility programme and related targets in March. One of our most significant and impactful targets is to achieve a 75 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025. This will be accomplished by transitioning to renewable energy and improving our energy efficiency. Food-related consumption habits and choices play a significant role in promoting sustainable development and thereby reducing environmental impacts. As a food industry company, we have an excellent opportunity – and an obligation – to have an impact on the world. Our sustainability targets are comprehensively linked to the various stages of our value chain, from field to fork. Apetit will continue the systematic execution of its strategy with the primary goal being the improvement of profitability.”
Esa Mäki, CEO: “We determinedly continued to improve our profitability in the last quarter of the year. Annual profitability improved by nearly EUR 9 million. Profitability improvement is mainly attributable to strong demand for the Apetit brand products in retail trade, improved efficiency in our own operations and commercial successes both in Finland and in export trade. In the grain trade, we have focused on developing our trading ability, in line with our strategy: we have largely succeeded with this goal, although towards the end of the year, the outlook of grain price development had a negative impact on profitability. In the fourth quarter, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could still be seen most strongly in the Food Service channel of the Food Solutions business, where net sales decreased year-on-year in spite of a partial recovery of sales during the second half of the year. The sales of frozen products grew year-on-year in other channels, especially in retail trade and exports. In Oilseed Products and Grain Trade, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still remained minor. One of Apetit’s strategic focus areas is to strengthen the Swedish market as the primary focus area of food exports. We have made progress towards our goal in the Swedish retail trade and in November, we signed an agreement on the Food Service product sales with a local partner in Sweden. The cooperation started at the beginning of February. We will systematically continue to increase exports in selected markets. In 2020, the value of food exports was EUR 5.3 million. In December, the European Commission granted a novel food authorisation for Apetit’s rapeseed ingredient, the BlackGrain from Yellow Fields rapeseed powder. The novel food authorisation is the culmination of the BlackGrain product development work we have been doing for years. It also enables us to continue the development of new rapeseed-based ingredients. In addition, we promote to assess options related to the commercialisation of the ingredient. The commissioning of the bioenergy plant under construction in conjunction with the Kantvik vegetable oil milling plant will be further delayed due to reasons related to an equipment supplier. We are currently assessing different options for completing the construction work. The bioenergy plant is already at an advanced stage of construction and we are aiming to commission it during summer 2021. In order to ensure the availability of domestic rapeseed raw materials, we are continuing our determined work to increase oilseed plant cultivation area and harvest levels. In December 2020, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) granted a special permission for the spring 2021 regarding a preparation used in treating oilseeds. The possibility of treating oilseeds will support the cultivation of domestic rapeseed, thereby increasing harvest levels from their current low point. In addition to being in good and stable demand, oilseed plants offer a profitable opportunity to increase versatility of crop rotation. The renewed oilseed plant campaign for 2021 started at the beginning of February: we offer contract growers new benefits and tools for oilseed plant cultivation. The planning for the coming cultivation season is in full swing also for field vegetables. In the coming growing season, we will seek a record harvest in peas as its demand in the export markets continues to be strong. We are also constantly conducting research on new crops at our Räpi experimental farm and promoting the development of domestic vegetable-based proteins: an example of this is the broad bean, which we will again be growing at the experimental farm after an interim year. The harvest will be processed into products later in the autumn. Apetit published its updated strategy in May. We have proceeded effectively in all strategic focus areas: Optimising core business functions, Strong foothold in Sweden, Growth from plant-based added value products, Developing farming partnerships and Sustainable actions. In light of the 2020 results, we are well on track to reach our financial objectives by the end of the strategy period.”
Esa Mäki, CEO: “Apetit Group’s positive profit performance continued in the third quarter: all of our businesses improved their profitability year-on-year. We can be satisfied with our profit performance to date. The remainder of the year involves uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. We keep our profit guidance for 2020 unchanged: the full-year operating profit is expected to improve year-on-year and to show a profit. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the third quarter were mainly seen in the Food Service channel of the Food Solutions business, where net sales decreased year-on-year in spite of a partial recovery of sales. Sales grew year-on-year in the other channels of the Food Solutions business. In Oilseed Products and Grain Trade, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were minor. In the challenging operating environment, it has been essential that our employees have stayed healthy and we have been able to maintain normal operations. I want to take this opportunity to express my warmest thanks to all of Apetit’s personnel. The harvest of outdoor-grown vegetables for this harvest season will be normal. The varying weather conditions in the early summer were challenging, with the cool spring, dry early summer and hot June having a negative impact on the growing season of peas in particular. The difficult growing season meant that we fell short of our target for peas by 1.3 million kilograms. Peas represent a significant share of Apetit’s food exports and, unlike in the previous year, pea exports fell entirely in the third quarter. One of Apetit’s strategic objectives is to strengthen food exports, particularly to Sweden. Our total food exports doubled year-on-year by the end of September. In the spring, eight products sold under the Apetit brand were added to the product selection of ICA, the largest retail chain in Sweden. Six new Apetit products were subsequently added to ICA’s selection this autumn. Continuing to strengthen our position in Sweden is a clear goal for us. In addition to retail, we are also seeking growth through the Food Service channel through local cooperation. Natural Resources Institute Finland estimates that the Finnish grain crop this year will be 3.4 million tonnes, which is about 15 per cent lower than last year. The relatively small grain crop will reduce Finland’s export surplus compared to the previous year. The oilseed harvest will be exceptionally low due to the declining area under cultivation and the low expectations of yield per hectare. However, the grain crop and oilseed harvest in the Baltic countries is excellent, which particularly compensates for the exceptionally weak oilseed harvest in Finland. At Apetit, we are continuing our systematic efforts to increase the willingness to cultivate oilseed plants in Finland to increase the area under cultivation and crop yields. The commissioning of the bioenergy plant under construction next to the Kantvik oil milling plant will be delayed to January–February 2021 due to reasons related to an equipment supplier. The bioenergy plant was originally scheduled to be commissioned at the end of 2020. When completed, the bioenergy plant will significantly reduce the energy costs of the Kantvik oil milling plant and the Group’s carbon dioxide emissions as a whole. Based on current information, the decision on the novel food marketing authorisation for Apetit’s rapeseed ingredient is expected before the end of the year. This autumn, we decided to invest in small-scale production equipment located on a subcontractor’s premises. Starting small-scale production will enable us to test the rapeseed ingredient more extensively with potential customers. Our work on developing new ingredients has progressed as planned. We are also continuing to assess alternatives related to the commercialisation of the rapeseed ingredient. We are systematically executing our strategy with the aim of making Apetit a successful Finnish company focusing on plant-based food products.”