KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — Non-US grain-based foods companies turned in strong share price performance during 2021 following two consecutive years of weaker performance, as more than half of the companies tracked by Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, finished higher year-over-year. After being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, many companies were able to regain their footing in 2021.
A total of 25 of the 40 companies tracked by Milling & Baking News recorded year-over-year increases in share price during 2021 while only 15 posted decreases. By comparison, only 13 companies recorded year-over-year increases in 2020 and only 10 companies recorded year-over-year increases in 2019. In fact, it was the most year-over-year increases since 25 companies posted increases in share price in 2014.
On the London Stock Exchange, Associated British Foods finished the year at 2008p, down 11% from 2247p in 2020 and 2579p in 2019. “In Ingredients, we made major steps to build our development capability and opened new technology development centers for our bakery ingredients and enzyme businesses,” Michael McLintock, chairman of ABF, said in the company’s annual report. “Our yeast joint venture with Wilmar International in China became operational this year, progress was made on building a major new yeast facility and we expect strong growth from this business in the future.”
Carr’s Group PLC’s share price closed at 160p in 2021, up 24% from 129.5p in 2020 and compared with 154.5p in 2019. After taking over as chief executive officer in January 2021, Hugh Pelham led an initial review of the company and guided the separation of Carr’s agricultural businesses into Specialty Agriculture and Agricultural Supplies to “enable greater visibility on the key drivers of growth and the performance of each business.” Pelham’s tenure was brief, though, and he left the company in October 2021. The company’s search for a new CEO continues.
Tate & Lyle PLC, the global sweetener company, had a 52-week high of 821.2p in early May before slowly tailing off and settling at 661.4p on Dec. 31, down 2% from 674.4p in 2020 and down 13% from 760.2p in 2019. In July, Tate & Lyle entered a transaction designed to create two standalone businesses. Tate & Lyle will be repositioned as a global food and beverage solutions business focused on fast-growing specialty markets. The other business, NewCo, will be positioned as a supplier of plant-based products for food and industrial markets.
Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food producer, finished 2021 at 111.8p, up 12% from 100.2p in 2020. During the year Premier noted excellent response to its Sweet Treats innovation program, which included new better-for-you Mr Kipling 30% less sugar Viennese Whirls. The Mr Kipling brand also entered the biscuit category for the first time, with a range of new biscuits targeting the everyday treat occasion hitting the market in the third quarter.
Shares of Finsbury Food Group PLC, the UK-based maker of cake, bread and gluten-free baked foods, rose throughout 2021, finishing at 100p, just off the 52-week high of 103 set on Dec. 30 and up 26% from 79.5p in 2020. Finsbury in April partnered with Tesco and TGI Fridays to launch two treat cake desserts. The 7-inch cakes serve eight people.
Greggs PLC, an operator of retail bakery shops and cafes in the United Kingdom, finished at 3337p, up 86% from 1790p in 2020 and compared with 2298p in 2019 and 1266p in 2018. In August, Greggs committed to using 100% fair trade chocolate across its supply chain and in all chocolate products sold through its shops.
The three leading UK retail chains posted strong share price increases during the past year. Tesco, the leader in UK food retailing, closed at 289.9p, up 25% from 231.4p a year ago. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer surged 70% to finish the year at 231.4p, up from 213.5p, and Sainsbury, PLC closed the year at 275.8p, up 22% from 225.5p in 2020.
In Ireland, Greencore Group PLC, a European maker of convenience food and malt products, finished at 129.5p, up 11% from 116.5p in 2020. In late November, Patrick Coveney informed the board he is stepping down as director and CEO on March 30, 2022, to take up a senior leadership role in a different sector. In the interim, Gary Kennedy, non-executive chairman, has taken a more active role in the business and Kevin Moore, chief commercial officer, assumed the role of deputy chief executive.
Kerry Group finished the year at €113.3, down 4% from €118.5 in 2020. In September, Kerry completed the acquisition of Hare Topco, Inc., which does business as Niacet Corp., for $1.016 billion. The acquisition will boost Kerry’s food protection and preservation strategy, allowing the company to “offer new products and technologies in a broader market.” Kerry also acquired Jining Nature Group, a Shandong, China-based maker of savory flavors, seasonings and prepared food products. Meanwhile, Kerry sold the Meats and Meals business of Kerry Consumer Foods in the United Kingdom and Ireland to Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. for $952 million.
Origin Enterprises, a food and agribusiness group based in Dublin, finished the year at €3.3, up 6% from €3.1 in 2020.
In Australia, GrainCorp Ltd. closed the year at A$8.3, up 98% from A$4.19 in 2020 and compared with A$7.58 in 2019. In October, GrainCorp acquired a 15% stake in Hone, a Newcastle, New South Wales-based AgTech startup company, a move that sets the stage for the companies to develop technology with high standard quality testing capabilities. Hone’s technology is currently used to analyze grain quality, soil carbon, and many other agricultural products and inputs.
Nutrien Ltd., which was formed in January 2018 as a merger of Agrium Inc. and PotashCorp., closed 2021 at C$95.1, up 55% from C$61.24 in 2020.
In France, Groupe Danone SA, the country’s largest food and beverage company, closed 2021 at €54.85, up 2% from €53.76 in 2020. In September, Antoine de Saint-Affrique joined Danone as CEO following a “rigorous selection process” to replace Emmanuel Faber, who departed the company in March. de Saint-Affrique joined Danone from global chocolate maker and cocoa processor Barry Callebaut, where he was CEO since 2015. Previously, he held senior executive positions at Unilever, where he led its food division as president from 2011 to 2015. Earlier, he was vice president of marketing and a partner at Amora Maille, a food company that was acquired under a leveraged buyout from the Danone Group.
In The Netherlands, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch food and personal products business, closed 2021 at 3945.5p, down 11% from 4392p in 2020.
Ahold, the Dutch-based company with global food retailing and foodservice operations, finished the year at €30.1, up 30% from €23.1 in 2020, while DSM, the Dutch chemical company with food ingredient interests, increased 41% to €198 from €140.8 in 2020.
Corbion finished lower in 2021, falling 10% to €41.44 from €46.15 in 2020.
In Switzerland, Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, closed at 127.44 Swiss francs, up 22% from 104.26 Swiss francs at the end of 2020. In July, Nestle USA unveiled plans to invest $70 million to make over its facility in Burlington, Wisconsin, US, to accommodate production of Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough. The company also announced plans to invest $100 million to expand its 40-year-old frozen food facility in Gaffney, South Carolina, US. The Gaffney plant produces premium-quality frozen food entrees for Stouffer’s and Lean Cuisine.
Aryzta AG closed 2021 at 1.14 Swiss francs, up 68% from 0.68 Swiss francs at the end of 2020 and compared with 1.082 Swiss francs in 2019. It was a big 2021 for Aryzta as the company sold its North American business to private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg for $850 million. The company’s portfolio included both private label and branded offerings under the Otis Spunkmeyer, La Brea Bakery and Oakrun Farm Bakery brands, and operated 15 production facilities with more than 4,000 employees in the United States and Canada. Later in the year, Aryzta sold its sandwich business in Switzerland to Bell Food Group as well as its Brazil businesses to Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV.
Share price movement in Japan was mixed during 2021. Nisshin Seifun, the Japanese holding company that includes Nisshin Milling, Japan’s largest flour miller, closed at Y1658, up 1% from Y1641 in 2020.
Nippn Corp. (formerly Nippon Flour Mills Co. Ltd.) increased 3% for the year, climbing to Y1656 from Y1611, but Nissin Foods Holdings, a leading manufacturer of instant noodles, decreased 5% to Y8390 from Y8840.
Baking leaders Yamazaki Baking and First Baking Co. Ltd. finished lower in 2021. Yamazaki closed at Y1528, down 11% from Y1724 in 2020. First Baking, meanwhile, plummeted 44% to Y553 from Y987 in 2020.
Olam International, which supplies food and industrial raw materials, finished at 1.75 Singapore dollars, up 14% from 1.53 Singapore dollars in 2020.
Wilmar International decreased 11% to 4.14 Singapore dollars from 4.65 Singapore dollars in 2020.
Indonesia’s Indofood, one of the largest food producers in Asia, decreased 8% to R6325 from R6850 in 2020.
South Africa-based Tiger Brands Ltd. fell in 2021, finishing at R18100, down 13% from R20818 in 2020.
Egyptian companies engaged in flour milling were mixed in 2021, led by a 20% increase at South Cairo and Giza Flour Mills. Other increases included Upper Egypt Flour, up 14%; Middle Egypt Flour, up 11%; Middle and West Delta Flour Co., up 5%; and East Delta Flour Co., up 4%. Declines were noted at Egyptian Starch, down 50%; Alexandria Flour, down 13%; and North Cairo Flour Mills, down 6%.
In Africa, Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC increased 9% in 2021 after climbing 32% in 2020. Flour Mills Nigeria primarily is involved in flour milling, pasta production and cements production.
In Spain, Ebro Foods shares fell 11% to €16.88 from €18.94 in 2020. Riviana Foods, a business unit of Ebro Foods, in 2021 sold its Ronzoni dry pasta brand and a dry pasta manufacturing facility located in Winchester, Virginia, US, to 8th Avenue Food & Provisions, Inc., a unit of Post Holdings, Inc. Ebro also sold its Catelli dry pasta business in Canada to Barilla in a transaction valued at $130 million.