HAMBURG (Reuters) – The CEO of Suedzucker, Europe’s largest sugar refiner, on Thursday reaffirmed expectations of a better annual profit, hoping that the economic impact of the pandemic will ease in the coming months.
COVID-19 vaccination levels are continually increasing around the world, despite regional differences, CEO Niels Poerksen said at Suedzucker’s online shareholders meeting.
“The expected result is that the economic impact (of the pandemic) will be reduced over time,” he said.
But the pandemic will still create unknown risks in the company’s new 2021/22 fiscal year.
Poerksen reiterated Suedzucker’s forecast of a 2021/22 FY2021/22 group operating profit of between € 300 million and € 400 million ($ 355 million to $ 473 million).
Poerksen said Suedzucker was implementing a new business strategy called 2026 Plus, which included the development of new businesses to participate in the growing global demand for food and plant-based products.
The strategy could also involve business acquisitions or stakes in companies involved in attractive business sectors, including outside of Europe, Poerksen said.
The new global demand for plant-based foods, proteins and plant-based products is generally seen as a major opportunity, with consumers showing great acceptance for plant-based proteins and sustainably produced products, a he declared.
“Worldwide equity purchases can certainly be considered for Suedzucker,” said Poerksen. “As part of the process of developing our new strategy, many attractive markets have been identified, including markets outside of Europe.
Expansion into new sectors “will not be done just through organic growth,” he said.
Besides sugar, Suedzucker already has interests in biofuels, processed foods such as pizza, food ingredients and starches.
“Alternative proteins produced from plants are an attractive market,” said Poerksen, adding: “Suedzucker will expand into this product area, building on our current business. “
Suedzucker manufactures animal feed using by-products of sugar beet processing and the production of biofuels from grains. Plant raw materials used for sugar, bioenergy and other products have great potential in other sectors.
Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Riham Alkousaa and David Evans