Kerry's American ingredients sales climb more than 5%

by Jeff Gelski
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TRALEE, IRELAND — Assisting customers in meeting demands for new nutritional and functional food and beverage products helped the American ingredients markets for the Kerry Group, P.L.C. record a sales increase of 5.2% to €1.28 billion ($1.7 billion) for the year ended Dec. 31, 2006. On a like-for-like basis, the increase was 4.9%.

Overall, sales for Kerry’s food ingredients business increased 3.7% to €3.13 billion, reflecting like-for-like growth of 4%. Trading profits increased 3.3% to €293 million. Total Kerry Group sales revenue increased 4.9% to €4.65 billion. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and non-trading items increased 1% to €487 million.

Kerry’s Proteins and Nutritionals range of dairy and soy technologies assisted customers in the United States. High protein crisps in nutrition bars and inclusions in ready-to-eat cereals and ice cream categories were successful launches. The acquisitions of Custom Industries and Nuvex Ingredients added production capacity and proprietary technologies.

Kerry’s business restructuring program delivered good results in the specialty dairy sector. Kerry closed a facility in Albert Lea, Minn., and aligned business operations to meet sector requirements.

The savory ingredients sector achieved strong volume growth in the second half of the year. Development of spray-dried, pharma-grade nutritional formulas and shelf-stable liquid nutritional beverages achieved strong market positioning in the nutritional beverage sector.

In American markets, the Group’s flavor division made progress in the natural and organic market place although the pricing level of grapefruit impacted the Mastertaste natural flavors business. Mastertaste’s savory flavors expanded their penetration of U.S. poultry markets because of a demand for bolder taste profiles, regional specific cuisine and ethnic flavors. Kerry Bio-Science technologies reported good top-line growth thanks to demand for consumer products that are natural, low in salt, low in sugar, low in fat or free of allergens.

The board of directors for Tralee-based Kerry Group approved the year’s financial statements on Feb. 26.

"While 2006 was a challenging year for the Group, I am pleased by the improved trading performance in the second half benefiting from successful innovation and on-going business restructuring and cost-saving programs," said Hugh Friel, chief executive for the Kerry Group.

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