Despite the challenging market environment, the group generated revenue of €3.043 billion, following €3.065 billion in the prior year. Consolidated operating profit of €171.4 million was significantly lower than that of the prior period (€236.9 million). While it was possible to markedly improve operating profit in the Fruit segment, the declining market prices since the summer and the higher commodity prices in the Sugar and Starch segments impacted margins.
Following two exceptionally strong financial years, the Sugar segment in particular experienced an extremely marked decline in earnings due to the difficult conditions prevailing in the sugar market.
"In an adverse environment, we are delighted to have almost managed to reach the record revenue level of the prior year,” said AGRANA Chief Executive Officer Johann Marihart. “At the same time, the advantage of our strategy of effectively balancing out volatile market conditions across the segments has become obvious. We will continue to apply this approach in order to safeguard the sustainable success of AGRANA."
Starch segment revenue grew by 5.5% in 2013-14, to €848.5 million. This increase was driven by higher sales quantities relating to both the main and by-products. Operating profit before exceptional items in the amount of €61.4 million was 15.4% lower than in the prior year, primarily due to the lower contribution to results of the ethanol activities as well as the forecast start-up losses associated with the wheat starch factory at the Pischelsdorf site.
On the basis of its sound balance sheet structure and a diversified business model, consisting of the Sugar, Starch and Fruit segments, AGRANA said it considers itself well positioned to face the new financial year.
"From today's perspective, we assume that the 2014-15 financial year will bring lower consolidated revenue as a result of somewhat lower market prices, on average, and slightly higher sales volumes. For operating profit before exceptional items, we also forecast a mild decrease," Marihart said. “In the 2014-15 financial year, a total of around €96 million is earmarked for investment in the three segments, on a par with scheduled depreciation and amortization.”