In the first quarter of the 2023/24 financial year (the three months ended 31 May 2023), AGRANA, the fruit, starch and sugar company, achieved very significant growth of 23.1 % in operating profit (EBIT) to EUR 63.5 million. Revenue increased by 9.0 % to EUR 966.1 million. “We have made a successful start to the 2023/24 financial year and are especially pleased with the continuing healthy profit trend in the Sugar segment and the good performance in the Fruit segment, where structural measures to boost profitability of the fruit preparations business are already producing results. In the Starch segment, the expectation of a challenging financial year was proved correct in the first three months. EBIT declined significantly in this business segment, due especially to a lower ethanol performance driven by sales prices,” explains AGRANA CEO Markus Mühleisen.
Results in each business segment for the first quarter of 2023/24
The Fruit segment’s revenue in the first quarter was EUR 401.1 million, up 11.2 % from one year earlier. The revenue expansion both in the fruit preparations and fruit juice concentrate businesses was the result of price changes. EBIT of the segment as a whole increased to EUR 24.4 million in the first three months of the financial year (Q1 prior year: EUR 19.9 million). The earnings result in fruit preparations was significantly above the year-ago level. The improvement was attributable mainly to a positive business performance in the Europe region. The fruit juice concentrate business as well further grew its earnings compared to the already very good year-earlier quarter. This was driven by improved contribution margins of apple juice concentrate made from the 2022 crop.
The Starch segment’s revenue of EUR 317.1 million in the first quarter was steady year-on-year (Q1 prior year: EUR 319.1 million), as lower sales volumes coincided with higher selling prices. Across most product categories, customers now are not fully utilising sales contracts that were concluded in fall and winter 2022 against the backdrop of the then-prevailing tight availability and resulting high market prices. Demand for native and modified food starches as well as saccharification products is more restrained, even in the normally stable food market. Many customers are facing weaker consumption and are increasingly running down their inventories. At EUR 22.1 million, EBIT in the Starch segment was down significantly from one year earlier (Q1 prior year: EUR 29.3 million). A key reason lay in the low-margin ethanol business, as a result of a considerable decline in Platts quotations.
Revenue in the Sugar segment was EUR 247.9 million, up 20.0 % from the first quarter of the previous year. This growth was driven by a substantial increase in sugar selling prices. EBIT, at EUR 17.0 million, represented a marked improvement from the year-earlier period. The Sugar segment’s very good EBIT in the first quarter of 2023|24 reflected the significantly increased sugar sales prices in particular, as well as many reorganisation measures taken previously.