According to the company, net sales increased by €41.7m on last year (+3.2%), with most of the growth coming from Finland, which accounted for €25.8m.
CEO of the company Juhna Gröhn said: “Once again, the market situation in 2012 contained many surprises. In the first half of the year, it seemed prices were levelling off and the market situation for cereals and meat was stabilising.”
In the second half of 2012, Atria Finland saw sales increase dramatically, which brought fourth-quarter (Q4) sales up by €14.5m on last year. Profitability for the Finnish arm of the company also improved and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were up by €17.2m on last year, reaching €36.5m.
Atria Finland explained that a decision to transfer cattle slaughtering and cutting to a plant in Kauhajoki should further improve its profitability, as well as making Atria’s beef offer more competitive. The new slaughter facility, developed through a €26m investment, was finalised at the end of 2012 and production was phased in early this year. As a result, cattle slaughter in Finland has almost doubled from 26 m kilograms (m kg) to 40m kg.
Atria Finland also invested €6m in its Seinäjoki-based broiler hatchery, which should be completed soon. The company said a new marketing standard, which had appeared in the EU at the start of the decade, had significantly increased demand for fresh chicken.
Sales in Atria Finland’s retail sector have also increased, with the total value growing by around 5.7%. According to the company, some of this came from increased volumes rather than price increases. It said large hypermarkets had increased their sales and small supermarkets had shown quick growth.
Average sales prices of meat products rose by around 8%, but the greatest increase was seen in beef, which grew at around 12%. The price of pork increased by 11%, but poultry prices increased only moderately, but an upturn in sales volumes compensated for the lower prices.
Growth and profitability in 2013
Mika Ala-Fossi, executive vice-president for Atria Finland, said the company now needed to have a variety of approaches to the Finnish market. “We are seeking growth in all five core product groups: cold cuts, cookery products, poultry, fresh meat and convenience foods. We proceed by product group, by segment and by customer. We go beyond the product group level, to a segment level. We have selected 25 key segments, each with its own clear growth targets and means to achieve them,” he explained.
Ala-Fossi also said that maintaining, and even increasing, profits this year was a challenge in a “post-recession” market, adding that prices and costs played a role. He said: “Since price competition in the market is bound to continue to be very tough, we must be extremely cost-aware at every stage of the Atria meat and food chain.”