Ebro Puleva pasta profit falls, rice rises

by Eric Schroeder
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MADRID, SPAIN — Organic growth of the rice and pasta divisions, continued commitment to innovation and differentiation in the product portfolio were "decisive in achieving the impressive evolution of the group during a year hard hit by the hike in raw material prices," according to Madrid-based Ebro Puleva.

Net income at Ebro Puleva in fiscal 2007 was €90,577,000 ($137,839,000), down from €180,363,000 in fiscal 2006. Net sales for the year rose 9% to €2,685,042,000.

Ebro Puleva’s pasta division recorded net sales of €775,235,000, up 30% from €596,140,000, while EBITDA totaled €88,450,000, down 4% from €92,093,000. Commenting on the company’s pasta business, Ebro Puleva said its first full year in the United States and Canada "was highly productive."

"We have consolidated the team, stabilized market shares, put industrial efficiency measures into place and introduced numerous innovations," the company said. That innovation included the launch of high calcium, high fiber pasta under the Catelli and Ronzoni brands. The company also plans to begin supplying microwave pasta products in the United States and Canada in the coming months.

The company’s rice division saw its net sales increase 11% year on year, driven in large part to price mix, volume and changes in the consolidated group. Operating profit in the rice business totaled €74,287,000 in 2007, up 82% from €40,722,000 in 2006.

Ebro Puleva has been active in new plant construction, with work on the company’s Memphis, Tenn., rice plant in full swing. The company also recently set up an organizational structure for its North American businesses — Riviana and New World Pasta — under the name Ebro North America.

"The main duties of this new organization are to preserve and develop the personality of both subsidiaries, boost the synergies between them, direct institutional and financial relations and continue the ordinary management of the group’s activities in that part of the world," Ebro Puleva said.

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