- Sales up 7.7%, to $6.4 billion
- Earnings from operations up 7.9%, to $444.1 million
- Net earnings: $174.9 million
- Patronage dividends up 8.5%, to $65.2 million
LONGUEUIL, QC, Feb. 14, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - Agropur Cooperative held its 79th Annual General Meeting today and reported record sales and a record operating surplus for fiscal 2017.
For the fiscal year ended November 1, 2017, Agropur reported sales of $6.4 billion, a year-over-year increase of 7.7%. Earnings from operations rose 7.9% to $444.1 million.
The increases were due in part to higher cheese prices and higher volume in the U.S. In Canada, the acquisition of ice cream and frozen novelties manufacturer Scotsburn helped drive growth.
It is noteworthy that the robust growth occurred while Agropur continued to face aggressive competition in Canada and volatile prices in the United States. Agropur's financial performance has made it the largest dairy-processing cooperative in North America1 and the 20th largest player in the world dairy industry. In 2017, Agropur processed nearly 6.1 billion litres of milk at its plants.
The cooperative model spreads the wealth
Agropur President René Moreau commented: "We put in a very good performance in fiscal 2017 and I'm happy that our business model lets us not only create wealth but also redistribute it. Over the past year, we paid out some $65.2 million in patronage dividends, up 8.5% from 2016, thus contributing to the economic vitality of rural communities."
Agropur also invested more than $174 million in its facilities in 2017, including $133 million in Canada. In the United States, the Cooperative recently launched a major capital project: the expansion of its cheese-manufacturing plant in Lake Norden, South Dakota. This investment will triple Agropur's -processing capacity in the region so as to take advantage of opportunities in the U.S. market.
Development strategy is bearing fruit
"We are showing profitable growth on both sides of the border," noted Agropur CEO Robert Coallier. "We owe this success to our constant focus on innovation, our quest for efficiency, and the strength of our brands. This is borne out by the University of Victoria's Gustavson Index, which rated Agropur as Canada's most trusted dairy brand for the third year in a row."
The Natrel brand maintained its market-leading position in Canada in 2017 in the "fine filtered," "lactose free" and "organic" categories, with market shares of 45%, 64% and 40%, respectively.2
Meanwhile, the OKA brand has continued to win over Canadian consumers, with 83% growth in sales volume since 2013. Agropur's goal is to make OKA cheese to Canada what Brie and Camembert are to France, Gouda to the Netherlands and Gruyere to Switzerland. Agropur is therefore working hard to building the relationship between consumers and this emblematic brand.
Agropur's iögo yogurt line celebrated five years of success in 2017. It now has a 13.9% market share in Canada and continues to grow twice as fast as its category. It is the preferred yogurt brand of millennials.
Just after its 2017 fiscal year ended, Agropur also became sole proprietor of yogurt manufacturer Ultima Foods. With its latest acquisitions, the Cooperative has become the dairy processor with the most complete product line in Canada.
Innovation remains central to Agropur's mission
In 2017, the Inno Agropur program launched in October 2016 leveraged the best in-house and outside resources through an open innovation process. To date, the program has brought several innovative products to the market testing stage to assess consumer response.
Agropur recently invited entrepreneurs to participate in the second edition of Inno Challenge, an international competition to co-create dairy products through open innovation. Today, the Cooperative announced the establishment of a co-investment platform, in conjunction with the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec. This platform for innovation in the dairy industry has a funding envelope of $40 million.
New corporate positioning
Agropur owes its sustainability to its members' vision and its ability to adapt to the needs of its customers and consumers. The new generation of consumers has different expectations from preceding ones. Incorporating this new demographic reality into its business strategy, Agropur has redefined its corporate positioning and articulated a new promise to offer everyone "better dairy" and a "better world." Agropur has thus committed to taking meaningful steps to change the world in its way.
For more information
Agropur Cooperative's annual report is available as of today on the Agropur website, at www.agropur.com.
About Agropur Cooperative
Agropur Cooperative, founded in 1938, is a North American dairy industry leader with sales of $6.4 billion in 2017. The Cooperative is the pride of the 3,290 members and 8,300 employees who pursue its vision every day: "Better dairy. Better world."
Agropur processes more than 6.1 billion litres of milk per year at its 39 plants across North America and boasts an impressive roster of brands and products including Natrel, OKA, iögo, BiPro, Agropur Grand Cheddar, Olympic, Farmers, Island Farms and Québon. Agropur's head office is certified LEED Silver. www.agropur.com
1 Source : www.dairyfoods.com
2 Source: Nielsen latest 52 wks, period ended December 9, 2017.
For further information: Source : Véronique Boileau, Vice President, Communications, Agropur Cooperative, Phone: 450-878-1844; Information and interviews, Diep Truong, 514 524-7348, email@example.com