LONDON, ENGLAND — Associated British Foods plc (ABF) reported on Jan. 17 that group revenue increased 10% for the 16 weeks ended Jan. 5, with agriculture revenue up 3% from last year.
The company said the increase in agriculture was driven by U.K. feed sales and AB Vista. Although sugar beet feed volumes in the period were ahead of last year, they are likely to be constrained for the rest of the year by the smaller U.K. beet crop, ABF said.
AB Vista’s feed enzyme business continued to make good progress particularly supported by the success of the recently launched Quantum Blue. China revenues were below last year with shortfalls resulting from lower demand for pig and poultry feed.
Sugar revenues were 12% ahead of last year, ABF said.
U.K. revenues in the period were ahead of last year with higher sales volumes compared with last year’s abnormally low level, and marginally higher sugar prices. Poor growing conditions during 2012 resulted in a lower beet yield and sugar content. As a consequence the U.K. campaign started later and will have lower factory throughputs to allow for a slower filtration process, ABF said.
Sugar production for the current year is estimated at 1.13 million tonnes compared with last year’s 1.32 million tonnes. Profit for the current year is expected to be lower than last year as a consequence of the lower production, higher beet cost and a weaker euro. The Vivergo ethanol plant is now operational.
Ingredients revenue was level with last year. Yeast and bakery ingredients revenues were close to last year across all regions. Good progress was made in bakery ingredients’ sales and margins, ABF said. In China, yeast quality and productivity was improved and there was some reduction in molasses costs although the market remains competitive. The new yeast manufacturing facility in Mexico is currently being commissioned with first sales expected in the spring, the company said. At ABF Ingredients, sales of extruded grain products were well ahead of last year and protein and lactose prices remained strong.