“The beverage end-use market delivered a strong performance in retail and foodservice channels, with a number of innovations deploying Kerry's TasteSense sugar-reduction technology and natural extracts portfolio,” the global food business stated in its half-year interim management report. “New beverage menu ranges were developed with key foodservice partners.
“Kerry’s Smoke & Grill and Meat-Free technologies were successfully deployed in a number of new launches in the UK and Northern Europe. A majority shareholding was acquired in Netherlands-based Ojah – a market-leading plant-based protein manufacturer in Europe producing textured meat alternatives, enhancing the group’s meat-free technology portfolio.”
Bakery, confectionery, snacks
Technology aimed at supporting manufacturers’ product development in bakery and confectionery delivered a “solid performance” and solutions for indulgent and healthy snacks “performed well”.
Kerry achieved 2.7% volume growth in Europe region, with a good performance in beverage, meat and dairy. It grew value sales by 2.9% in the region, to €700m (£631m), despite currency wobbles.
In its global consumer foods division, the traditional spreads category proved challenging. However, the company claimed its softer butter technology delivered good growth with own-label UK brands.
Food-to-go performed well, with Cheestrings delivering strong growth. The relaunch of Fridge Raiders, which would now embrace a broader range of snacking products to appeal to a wider range of consumers, began towards the end of the period, said the firm.
“Evolving consumer trends and the changing marketplace have provided increased opportunities and demand for Kerry’s industry-leading research development and acquisition and broad technology portfolio,” said group chief executive Edmond Scanlon.
“This, along with the group’s enhanced end-use market focus, drove healthy volume growth and underlying margin expansion in the first half of 2018. We also continued to make progress with and invest in business development initiatives aligned to our strategic growth priorities.”
The group battled increased pressure on profit margins to post operating profit of €312.4m (£281.1m), up from €291m (£261.9m) in the same period in 2017. It achieved revenue of €3.22bn (£2.9bn) in the interim half-year period to 30 June 2018, versus €3.18bn in the same period in 2017, representing 1.4% value growth.