SAINT-HUBERT, QC – Agropur held its 81st Annual General Meeting for members and presented the highlights of its last fiscal year. The Cooperative, one of the 20 largest dairy industry players in the world, continued to grow in 2019, increasing its sales 10.2% year-over-year to $7.3 billion.1 Consolidated EBITDA2 was $365.4 million, an increase of 3.3%.3 Net earnings decreased by $27.5 million to $40.2 million. Patronage dividends to members in the amount of $30 million were declared.
Agropur registered overall growth. In the United States, it improved its bottom line in 2019 as a result of, among other things, higher sales volumes and more favourable market conditions. The Cooperative also completed the expansion of its plant in Lake Norden, South Dakota, the largest project in its history. This investment will contribute to Agropur’s growth in the coming years. In Canada, the Cooperative was directly impacted by the highly competitive market environment and additional cheese imports under the Canada-EU Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“The government must announce compensation and work with the processors such as Agropur that are being impacted by these international trade agreements,” said Agropur President Roger Massicotte. “Ratification of the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) will have an even greater impact. In addition to the new import quotas, the agreement limits exports. The new market realities are forcing us to rethink how we do things.”
Realizing full potential
Over the past 10 years, Agropur has added a total of 14 businesses with nearly $3 billion in sales through mergers and acquisitions. In Canada, these moves expanded the Cooperative’s footprint across the land, enabling it to offer the widest range of products in the country and to become a major player in North America. While the rapid growth has brought its share of challenges, it has also opened up many opportunities. New CEO Émile Cordeau has therefore put in place a development plan for fiscal 2020: “Our goal will be to optimize our manufacturing and distribution network and maximize our product line in order to realize efficiencies. This will enable us to reinvest in Agropur’s future development and realize its full potential,” said Mr. Cordeau.
Successful brands in Canada
Agropur can rely on strong brands to drive its growth. In 2019, Natrel held its status as Canada’s leading brand in the fine-filtered, lactose-free and organic categories.4 It scored a coup with the launch of mochi, Japanese-inspired ice cream treats.
OKA, the dean of Agropur cheeses, remained a favourite of Canadians with the highest brand recognition in the fine cheese segment.5 In 2019, OKA L’Artisan and OKA Raclette were named grand champions at the SIAL Canada International Cheese Competition.6 iÖGO nanö remained the top yogurt brand among children.7 nanö mozzarella portion packs were named 2019 Product of the Year in the dairy category.8
On the strength of its consumer recognition and popularity, Agropur was ranked Canada’s most trusted brand in the dairy products and alternatives category in 2019 and placed in the top three among all Canadian brands on the values-based trust dimension.9
A socially responsible cooperative
True to its convictions, Agropur is unconditionally committed to sustainable development. During 2019 the Cooperative:
- reduced the amount of plastic in its new drinkable yogurt bottles (nanö and iÖGO Smoothie) by 30%;
- improved the nutritional value of its products by reducing the sugar content by 35% or more (Fruit on the Bottom yogurt and nanö);
- continued to offer its members support and training on animal welfare;
- set a water-usage reduction target of 5% per year for its plants.
“Our cooperative model and corporate values are differentiators that are recognized and appreciated by consumers,” said Mr. Massicotte. “Our employees and members are committed to the Cooperative’s success. These assets give us a firm foundation on which to build for the future.”
Agropur Cooperative is a North American dairy industry leader founded in 1938. With sales of $7.3 billion in 2019, the Cooperative is a source of pride to the 3,024 members and 8,800 employees who work together in pursuit of a shared goal: Better Dairy. Better World. Agropur has 38 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.com
|1||Fiscal 2018 contained 53 weeks compared with 52 in 2019. The comparative growth excludes the impact of the additional week in 2018.|
|2||Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization, restructuring costs, integration and other non-recurring costs.|
|3||Fiscal 2018 contained 53 weeks compared with 52 in 2019. The comparative growth excludes the impact of the additional week in 2018.|
|4||Nielsen, GB+DR+MM, 52 weeks ended November 9, 2019.|
|5||Brand Equity Tracking Report, Ipsos, Canadian national data, June 2019|
|6||SIAL Canada International Cheese Competition, https://sialcanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SIAL-2019-Cheese-Competition-Media-release-1.pdf|
|7||Nielsen, GB+DR+MM, 52 weeks ending November 9, 2019 (number one among children, excluding teens).|
|8||Product of the Year award, http://productoftheyear.ca/winners-2019/#1553543620315-ae92e2bd-374f|
|9||2019 Gustavson Brand Trust Index.|