bread and wheat
TOKYO, JAPAN — Yamazaki Baking Co., Ltd., Japan’s largest bread company, posted operating income of 30.087 billion yen (U.S. $281 million) in the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, down 14% from 35.169 billion yen in fiscal 2016. Net sales, though, increased 1.1%, rising to 1,053 billion yen (U.S. $9.84 billion) from 1,041 billion yen.

Yamazaki’s Food business recorded operating income of 29.209 billion yen in fiscal 2017, down nearly 15% from 34.202 billion yen in fiscal 2016.

Total sales in the Food business were 982.116 billion yen, up 1.3% from the same period a year ago. Pacing the growth was the company’s processed bread, prepared rice and processed noodles, which saw sales grow 4.7% in the year to 155.298 billion yen. The company’s bread sales increased 2.5% to 96.493 billion yen, while sweet buns, which make up the largest portion of the company’s food business sales, increased 0.9% in fiscal 2017 to 359.571 billion yen. Western-style confectionery sales increased 0.7% to 134.907 billion yen in the year. Two categories in the Food business — Biscuits, crackers, sembei and other merchandise, and Japanese-style confectionery — experienced a year-over-sales decline, with the former falling 0.7% and the latter declining 0.3%.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2018, Yamazaki said it expects operating income to improve to 36 billion yen, which, if realized, would be up nearly 20% from fiscal 2017. Net sales are projected to climb 1.8% to 1,072 billion yen.

Yamazaki Baking operated 110,085 stores at the end of fiscal 2017, up from 109,293 stores at the end of fiscal 2016. The number of employees grew to 19,109 from 18,628.

Yamazaki Baking was founded in 1948, and started producing bread in 1955.