Cosun realised higher turnover and results in 2017 than in 2016. The increase on 2016 was attributable chiefly to Suiker Unie benefiting from high sugar prices in the first half of 2017.
Net turnover increased to EUR 2,112 million in 2017 (2016: EUR 1,988 million) . All business groups in the Cosun portfolio contributed to the increase. The improvement in both turnover and profit was due chiefly to Suiker Unie.
Investments in tangible and intangible fixed assets amounted to EUR 187 million (2016: EUR 121 million).
The multiyear investment programme to increase the processing capacity of the Dutch sugar factories in Dinteloord and Vierverlaten was completed in 2017. The final measure was an investment in new washing houses. Other investments included an increase in biogas production capacity.
Aviko is carrying out a multiyear investment master plan to increase its production capacity and the flexibility of its fries factories, including the factory in Rain (Germany). The capacity of the fries factory in China was also increased. Aviko further invested in additional capacity for specialities and took a new drum dryer for flakes into operation in Venray.
The Cosun innovation center was opened in 2017. The Institute for Rational Sugar Production (IRS) is also housed in the innovation center. Other investments related mainly to replacement projects at Sensus, SVZ and Duynie.
Total assets increased to EUR 1,901 million in 2017 (2016: EUR 1,790 million), chiefly on account of investments during the year. The cash position improved by EUR 137 million. Group equity increased by EUR 72 million to EUR 1,250 million (2016: EUR 1,178 million). Group equity as at 31 December 2017 was equal to 66% of total assets, the same as at 31 December 2016. The group maintained its strong financing position. We do not expect any significant changes in this situation in 2018.
The members’ bonus is that part of the profit that is paid to members in the quota beet price. It totalled EUR 96 million in 2017.
The basic price for quota beet was EUR 32.50 per tonne, and the members’ bonus was EUR 14.75 per tonne. On balance, the price paid to members for quota beet with 17% sugar content and an extractability rate of 91 therefore amounted to EUR 47.25. The price paid for quota beet with average sugar content and average extractability was EUR 45.62 (2016: EUR 44.15). The volume of quota beet increased by 35% to 6.8 million tonnes. At 15.5 tonnes, the average sugar yield per hectare was higher than in 2016 (13.3 tonnes).
The average financial yield per Dutch beet grower was EUR 4,007 per hectare. This is EUR 690 higher than in the previous year as both the yield per hectare (tonnes of beet per hectare) and the price paid per tonne were higher. Furthermore, more quota beet were produced per hectare and the average late delivery premium was higher on account of the long campaign.
The price volatility of agricultural products has a significant impact on Cosun’s results. The impact of the decline in European sugar prices seen at the end of 2017 will be felt in 2018. Suiker Unie’s results will be significantly lower. Our position, however, remains strong. The scale of our factories and our growers’ high yield per hectare make us very competitive.
We expect Aviko’s results to be virtually unchanged even though selling prices will be weakened by low European spot prices for potatoes. Capacity increases, however, should enable us to grow our sales. The decline at our other activities is expected to be limited. Sensus will face persistent competitive pressures and a weaker dollar, SVZ will be affected by the poor harvest of certain fruits in 2017 and Duynie will face tougher conditions on the animal feed market.
On the whole, we expect Cosun’s result for 2018 to be lower. Cosun will continue to invest in strengthening its presence in various market segments in the year ahead. We will do so by investing in organic growth, including efficiency gains and innovation, and where possible in strategic acquisitions.