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: “We achieved a positive turnaround in profits as all of the Group’s businesses improved their profitability in the second quarter: the operating profit of continuing operations improved by EUR 4 million year-on-year. In the Grain Trade business, the previous profitable quarter was in 2017. The positive profit performance of the Group was driven primarily by commercial successes in the domestic market as well as exports, the flexible adjustment of production in exceptional circumstances, the recovery of trading ability in the grain trade and improvements in efficiency in everything we do. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic vary between the Group’s businesses. In Food Solutions, sales in the retail segment remained at a high level in the second quarter, even if the uptick in demand levelled off compared to the early days of the exceptional circumstances. Food service sales saw a partial recovery in the early summer but were significantly below the reference period. The sudden change in the sales mix caused additional costs in production. In the Oilseed Products business, the demand for vegetable oils grew particularly in the retail segment. In the Grain Trade business, the impacts of the pandemic have been minor, aside from market fluctuations being slightly larger than usual. The COVID-19 pandemic has required extra effort in every stage of the food supply chain, but Finnish food production has proved its resilience and functionality even under exceptional circumstances. This has led to a marked increase in the visibility and appreciation of domestic food. I want to take this opportunity to thank our stakeholders and Apetit’s personnel for their flexibility and ability to work under challenging circumstances. The cultivation season got off to a slow start as the cold springtime weather delayed sowing and the start of the growing season. In June, the hot and dry conditions posed challenges, particularly for pea cultivation. The earliest pea varieties suffered from the hot and dry weather and the size of the total pea harvest will fall short of the targets. In general, the harvest of outdoor-grown vegetables is expected to be moderate. The area under cultivation of oilseed plants was at a record low and the domestic oilseed harvest is expected to be the worst in decades. The total harvest of domestic grains is likely to be substantially weaker than in the previous year. In the Baltic countries, the harvest outlook is good for grains as well as oilseed plants. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a verdict in late July in favour of granting a novel food authorisation for Apetit’s rapeseed ingredient. This is an important step in the long process that developing an entirely new food product entails. The final decision on the novel food authorisation is expected at the beginning of 2021 at the latest. In May, Apetit published its new strategy for 2020–2022. The five strategic focus areas are Optimising core business functions, Strong foothold in Sweden, Growth from plant-based added value products, Developing farming partnerships and Sustainable actions. In accordance with the strategic focus areas, Apetit focuses on improving its performance in all of its operations, strengthening its market position in Sweden particularly in the food segment, pursuing growth from new plant-based added value products, developing and expanding farmer partnerships in all of the company’s businesses and continuously improving the sustainability of operations through practical actions. The turnaround in profitability that we have achieved puts us in a good position to implement our new strategy and accomplish the targets set in it. In line with our vision, we aim to make Apetit a successful Finnish company focusing on plant-based food products.”
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. July–September 2018 Net sales amounted to EUR 76.6 (74.4) million Operational EBITDA was EUR 3.1 (3.0) million Operational EBIT was EUR 1.7 (1.6) million January–September 2018 Net sales amounted to EUR 209.1 (225.3) million Operational EBITDA was EUR 3.2 (4.2) million Operational EBIT was EUR -1.1 (0.1) million 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. Juha Vanhainen, CEO: “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.” KEY FIGURES EUR million 7-9 2018 7-9 2017 Change 1-9 2018 1-9 2017 Change 2017 CONTINUING OPERATIONS, KEY FIGURES Net sales 76.6 74.4 3% 209.1 225.3 -7% 311.8 Operational EBITDA 3.1 3.0 3.2 4.2 6.8 Operational EBIT 1.7 1.6 -1.1 0.1 1.3 Operating profit 1.5 1.6 -2.6 -0.1 1.1 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 Investment 2.6 3.7 5.2 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 Equity ratio 63.6% 62,6% 72.6% Gearing 12.3% 8.8% -9.6% FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE IN JULY–SEPTEMBER 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. FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE IN JANUARY–SEPTEMBER 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. SEASONALITY OF OPERATIONS 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. PROFIT GUIDANCE FOR 2018 UNCHANGED 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. Apetit Plc For further information, please contact: Juha Vanhainen, CEO, tel. +358 10 402 00 Attachment: Apetit Plc business review 1 january-30 september 2018 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.
The published reports contain the Board of Directors’ report, the consolidated and parent company financial statements, the auditor’s report, the statement by the Supervisory Board, Apetit Plc’s Corporate Governance Statement as well as Annual and Corporate Responsibility Report. Download here: Apetit 2017 For further information, please contact: Sanna Väisänen, Director, Communications and IR, tel. +358 10 402 4041