KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — It was another challenging year for foreign grain-based foods companies in 2022, as more than half of the companies tracked by Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, finished lower year-over-year. The lingering effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continued to hold sway in international markets as did rising costs and inflation.

A total of 22 of the 40 companies tracked by Milling & Baking News recorded year-over-year decreases in share price during 2022 while 18 posted increases. By comparison, 13 companies recorded year-over-year increases in 2021. Two companies — Ajinomoto Co. Inc. and Barry Callebaut — have been added to this year’s review, while two — South Cairo and Giza Flour Mills and Egyptian Starch — have been removed. Stock prices for the latter two largely were unquoted throughout 2022.

On the London Stock Exchange, Associated British Foods finished the year at 1576p, down 22% from 2008p in 2021 and down 30% from 2247p in 2020. “This year all of our businesses experienced cost inflation across an unprecedented range of inputs,” Michael McLintock, chairman of ABF, said in the company’s annual report. “Although hard work has successfully recovered much of this cost inflation, more remains to be done. The Group continued to invest for the long term with a gross investment this year of £930 million, notably up on the £721 million investment last year.” He said the company built a new feed mill in Western Australia and began a major expansion of its yeast extracts facility in Hamburg, Germany. The company also spent £160 million on acquisitions in 2022, with the key additions being the life sciences company Fytexia for ABF Ingredients, and Greencoat, an animal supplement and care business for AB Agri.

Carr’s Group PLC’s share price closed at 124.50p in 2022, down 22% from 160p in 2021. Carr’s in late October completed the disposal of its interest in the Agricultural Supplies Division to Edward Billington and Son Ltd. for £44.5 million. With the sale, Carr’s said it will be able to focus on its Specialty Agriculture and Engineering divisions, both of which provide “a greater opportunity for growth and historically have achieved higher profit margins.”

Tate & Lyle PLC, the global sweetener company, had a 52-week high of 814.9p in early May before slowly tailing off and settling at 711.20p on Dec. 30, up 7.5% from 661.4p in 2021. In March, Tate & Lyle agreed to acquire Quantum Hi-Tech Biological Co., Ltd. from ChemPartner Pharmatech Co., Ltd. for $237 million. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Guangdong, China, Quantum specializes in the research, development, production and sale of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). A few months later, Tate & Lyle further expanded, acquiring most of the assets of Nutriati, Richmond, Virginia, US, a developer and manufacturer of chickpea-based ingredients sold under the Artesa brand.

Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food producer, finished 2022 at 108.60p, down 3% from 111.8p in 2021. In May, Premier launched baked treats brand Mr Kipling in the United States for the first time, introducing the snack in more than 200 Target retailers.

Shares of Finsbury Food Group PLC, the UK-based maker of cake, bread and gluten-free baked foods, spent just a few days above 100p in 2022, easing throughout the early part of the year before rebounding to finish at 92p on Dec. 30, up 8% from 2021. Finsbury invested in its gluten-free business in the UK and Poland, expanding capacity and capability and driving double-digit growth, John Duffy, chief executive officer, said in the company’s annual report issued in late September.

Greggs PLC, an operator of retail bakery shops and cafes in the United Kingdom, finished at 2346p, down 30% from 3337p in 2021 and compared with 1790p in 2020. 

A year after posting strong share price increases during 2021, the three leading UK retail chains gave back ground in 2022. Tesco, a leader in UK food retailing, closed at 224.2p, down 23% from 289.9p a year ago. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer fell 58% to finish the year at 123.3p, down from 231.4p, and Sainsbury, PLC closed the year at 217.7p, down 21% from 275.8p in 2021.

In Ireland, Greencore Group PLC, a European maker of convenience food and malt products, slumped to 64.15p, down 51% from 129.5p in 2021 and well off the 52-week high of 141p set in February. Greencore advanced its Better Future Plan sustainability strategy in 2022, focusing on progressing the data and systems framework to measure performance effectively. However, the company also experienced an IT security incident that resulted in temporary unauthorized access to part of its IT systems. Greencore said it recognized costs of £1.9 million related to the incident.

Kerry Group finished the year at €84.24, down 26% from €113.3 in 2021. In August, Kerry entered a definitive agreement with Kraft Heinz Co. to acquire Kraft’s B2B powdered cheese business. In addition to powdered cheese products from the Kraft Heinz Ingredients brand, Kerry will acquire Kraft’s manufacturing facility in Albany, Minnesota, US, and the facility’s employees. Earlier in 2022, Kerry acquired Enmex, a Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico-based enzyme manufacturer. Enmex supplies multiple bio-process solutions for food, beverage and animal nutrition markets. Kerry also acquired c-LEcta, a Leipzig, Germany-based biotechnology innovation company that specializes in precision fermentation, optimized bio-processing and bio-transformation for the creation of high-value targeted enzymes and ingredients.

Origin Enterprises, a food and agribusiness group based in Dublin, finished the year at €4.3, up 30% from €3.3 in 2021.

In Australia, GrainCorp Ltd. closed the year at A$7.42, down 11% from A$8.3 in 2021. In March, GrainCorp, Australia national science agency SCIRO and plant-based food producer v2food partnered on a A$4.4 million research project in the fast-growing plant-based protein market. The partnership’s goal is to build Australian processing and manufacturing expertise to reduce reliance on imported ingredients and to add more value to grains and oilseeds for use in new products.

Nutrien Ltd., which was formed in January 2018 as a merger of Agrium Inc. and PotashCorp., closed 2022 at C$98.85, up 4% from C$95.1 in 2021.

In France, Groupe Danone SA, the country’s largest food and beverage company, closed 2022 at €49.23, down 10% from €54.85 in 2021. In early 2022 Danone unveiled a new company strategy that focuses on four pillars as the company seeks like-for-like sales growth of 3% to 5%. The strategy comes after a review recognized Danone underperformed compared to its markets. The four pillars are: restoration of Danone’s competitiveness in core categories and geographies; selective expansion of Danone’s presence in segments, channels and geographies; seeding for future growth avenues; and portfolio rotation.

In The Netherlands, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch food and personal products business, closed 2022 at 4182p, up 6% from 3945.5p in 2021. In September, Unilever’s board of directors began a search for a new CEO after Alan Jope announced his plans to retire at the end of 2023. Mr. Jope has led the company during the past five years. 

Ahold, the Dutch-based company with global food retailing and foodservice operations, finished the year at €26.8, down 11% from €30.1 in 2021, while DSM, the Dutch chemical company with food ingredient interests, decreased 42% to €114.3 from €198 in 2021.

Corbion finished lower in 2022, falling 23% to €31.8 from €41.4 in 2021. In December, Corbion said it has begun a process to divest its non-core emulsifiers business. Divesting the emulsifier business will allow Corbion to focus on growing its core business, according to the company, which did not set a timetable for any transaction.

In Switzerland, Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, closed at 107.14 Swiss francs, down 16% from 127.44 Swiss francs in 2021. Nestle USA is leveraging its 30,000-strong workforce to spark fresh innovation. Its New Business Ventures group partners with teams across the organization to encourage “what if” projects, lending expertise on early-stage trends to test new products and business models that appeal to the evolving tastes of consumers. Nestle New Business Ventures in 2022 piloted a delivery service model for freshly baked Toll House cookies, delivering warm treats directly to doorsteps in Washington.

Aryzta AG closed 2021 at 1.1 Swiss francs, down 4% from 1.14 Swiss francs at the end of 2021. After disposing of its North American assets in 2021, Aryzta’s businesses “have become more embedded with our customers around product innovation, delivery of improved service levels and cooperations to manage the fast-moving inflationary environment,” Urs Jordi, chairman, noted in the company’s annual report issued in late September.

Zurich, Switzerland-based chocolate maker Barry Callebaut finished 2022 at 1829 Swiss francs, down 17% from 2216 Swiss francs in 2021. In December, Barry Callebaut said it is adding liquid and molding lines, as well as enhanced dairy-free production capabilities, as part of its latest expansion in Chatham, Ont. White compound production will be added in 2023, the company said. The company also introduced what it calls the “second generation” of chocolate at an Oct. 27 event in Venice, Italy. The recipe for the chocolate contains 60% to 80% more cocoa, and the chocolate contains 50% less sugar than over 80% of the chocolate consumed globally, according to Barry Callebaut.

Share price movement in Japan was mixed during 2022. Nisshin Seifun, the Japanese holding company that includes Nisshin Milling, Japan’s largest flour miller, closed at Y1653, down less than 1% from Y1658 in 2021. Ajinomoto Co. Inc., a multinational food and biotechnology company, closed at Y4031, up 15% from Y3497 in 2021.

Nippon Corp. (formerly Nippon Flour Mills Co. Ltd.) decreased 2% for the year, falling to Y1620 from Y1656, but Nissin Foods Holdings, a leading manufacturer of instant noodles, increased 24% to Y10420 from Y8390. 

Baking leaders Yamazaki Baking and First Baking Co. Ltd. posted mixed moves in 2022. Yamazaki closed at Y1574, up 3% from Y1528 in 2021. First Baking, meanwhile, fell 29% to Y390 from Y553 in 2021. 

Olam International, which supplies food and industrial raw materials, delisted in early March, returning to trading in mid-March as Olam Group. Olam finished 2022 at 1.46 Singapore dollars, down 17% from 1.75 Singapore dollars at the end of 2021 when the company was listed as Olam International.

Wilmar International increased narrowly to 4.17 Singapore dollars from 4.14 Singapore dollars in 2021. 

Indonesia’s Indofood, one of the largest food producers in Asia, increased 6% to R6725 from R6325 in 2021.

South Africa-based Tiger Brands Ltd. increased in 2022, finishing at R21002, up 16% from R18100 in 2021.

Egyptian companies engaged in flour milling posted gains in 2022, led by a 57% increase at North Cairo Flour Mills. Other increases included Middle and West Delta Flour Co., up 50%; East Delta Flour Co., up 34%; Middle Egypt Flour, up 31%; Upper Egypt Flour, up 30%; and Alexandria Flour, up 19%. Two companies that had been tracked in the past — South Cairo and Giza Flour Mills and Egyptian Starch, were largely unquoted in 2022 and comparisons could not be drawn.

In Africa, Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC increased 1% in 2022 after climbing 9% in 2021 and 32% in 2020. Flour Mills Nigeria primarily is involved in flour milling, pasta production and cements production.

In Spain, Ebro Foods shares fell 14% to €14.66 from €16.88 in 2021. Riviana Foods, a business unit of Ebro Foods, in September invested $80.6 million to expand and renovate its processing and packaging plant in Memphis, Tennessee, US. The investment project will add approximately 80 new full-time jobs.