AARHUS, DENMARK— The Chocolate & Confectionery Fats business of AAK appears to have rebounded after COVID-19 negatively impacted the business in 2020.

That business achieved operating profit of SEK 971 million ($106 million) in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2021, which was up 12% from SEK 865 million in the previous fiscal year. Volume jumped 16% to 519,000 tonnes from 449,000 tonnes.  Net sales increased 27% to SEK 10.12 billion ($1.11 billion) from SEK 7.95 billion.

In fiscal 2020, when compared to fiscal 2019, operating profit in the Chocolate & Confectionery Fats business increased 9%, but net sales and volume both declined by 2%. A positive trend began in the third quarter of 2020, said Johan Westman, president and chief executive officer of AAK, in a Feb. 4 earnings call.

“So I think it’s hard to say that Q4 last year and Q4 this year should be a very significant COVID impact, but I don’t have the answers, but what it seems like more is that we, as consumers, have found our way to buy through different channels, whether that is a click to buy or now being able to go to the grocery store and feel safe again after vaccinations and so forth,” he said. “So I think it’s very difficult to draw a simple conclusion saying this is a COVID impact, it will reverse or is it actually a systematic impact of the underlying trends that are there. We’ll see. Time will tell.”

Companywide, operating profit for the fiscal year dipped 4% to SEK 2.09 billion ($228 million) from SEK 2.17 billion. Excluding an item affecting comparability, operating profit was $2.39 billion, up 11% from SEK 2.17 billion. Net sales were SEK 35.45 billion ($3.87 billion), up from SEK 27.93 billion. Total volume increased 5% in the fiscal year to 2.312 million tonnes from 2.195 million tonnes.

In Food Ingredients, operating profit rose 7% to SEK 1.38 billion. Net sales were up 26% at SEK 23.25 billion, and volumes increased 4% to 1.476 million tonnes.

In the fourth quarter, AAK achieved operating profit of SEK 659 million, up 9% from SEK 607 million in the same time of the previous year. Sales soared 43% to SEK 10.4 billion from SEK 7.30 billion. Volume increased 5% to 610,000 tonnes from 580,000 tonnes.