The Swiss-based food firm, which also revealed its EBIT had increased by 18% to €178m, described the acquisition as “a highlight in the past fiscal year,” in which Bühler sought to add wafer and biscuit production capabilities to its offerings.
“In 2017, this clear focus has enabled us to continue to expand our technology and market positions and to further increase our competitiveness,” said its CEO Stefan Scheiber.
“The same also applies for the acquisition of the Austrian Haas Group, which now allows Bühler to also occupy a leading position in the consumer foods market.
“We face the new fiscal year with confidence, not least thanks to our high order backlog,” said Scheiber.
Grains & Food growth
As of year-end, Bühler’s order backlog amounted to €1.8bn, an increase year-on-year of 9%, buoyed on by contributions made by its Grains & Food (€1.8bn) business with a 7% increase in turnover to €1.7bn.
In 2017, the firm renewed its focus on the Grains & Food division, renaming the business and further investing in its range of sustainable, integrated, complete solutions. These changes took effect at the beginning of 2018.
Its Value Nutrition business area was busy, developing closer relations with pasta maker Barilla that resulted in a new project in Russia and an expansion of the Bühler pasta business.
Value Nutrition also opened application centres in China to adapt end products to market demands. In Wuxi, it opened Pasta & Noodles.
With an order for the first industrial insect processing plant in Europe, Bühler began to scale protein production from insects in June 2107.
The firm’s Insect Technology division, in collaboration with its joint venture partner, Protix, will construct facilities to process black solider flies for animal nutrition in the Netherlands.
Earlier in the year, Bühler and Protix founded the joint venture, Bühler Insect Technology, to build insect processing plants describing the plant as “a blueprint” for future projects.
Bühler’s Consumer Foods division enjoyed a fruitful year, in which Japanese customer Meito selected Bühler as its preferred full-scope provider.
The order covers the entire cocoa processing line, from cocoa bean intake to cocoa liquor, and a chocolate mass production line from ingredient handling to liquid chocolate mass storage.
The coffee business was also successful in the past year. The new coffee roaster ordered by Chicco d’Oro in 2015 was successfully commissioned.
Bühler also signed a contract with its Norwegian customer Joh. Johannson to build a carbon-neutral plant.
“We demonstrated our competence in integrated and sustainable complete solutions,” the company said.
“We launched 20 product innovations, including a robot-supported plant for lower volumes (ChocoBotic) and DoMiReCo, a digital, self-controlled process.
Best of the rest
Other results saw Bühler post a profit surge by 22% to €151m, representing a net profit margin of 6.5% - up from the previous year’s figure of 5.9%.
Despite the issue of a corporate bond, the equity ratio remained at a high level of 45% (previous year: 47%), and the return on net operating assets (RONOA) rose to 21%. The previous year was 19%.
“Bühler faces the future with confidence. For the current fiscal year, the Group expects to continue its present profitable growth path,” said Scheiber.
“Our market foundations are sound. With our leading technologies and solutions we intend to achieve above-average performance in 2018 as well.”