Europe’s major agricultural trading group baywa brought its soybean business into the black, sold more agricultural machinery to farmers and thus slightly increased sales and operating profit last year.
For the current year, CEO klaus josef lutz was clearly more optimistic in munich: the apple harvest in new zealand was allowed to be coarser and also of better quality, the more profitable trade in specialties such as avocados or malting barley was growing, and farmers were investing further.
Last year, sales rose by four percent to 16 billion euros, and operating profit (ebit) by as much as 18 percent to 171 million euros. However, the lowen share of the earnings growth comes from the sale of the company headquarters. For the current year, lutz promised the shareholders at least the same high result, even without such special effects.
"Baywa is increasingly transforming itself from a rough trader into a project developer and manager," said lutz. Fuel and heating oil trading and the construction of wind and solar power plants account for one-fifth of its business. In the united arab emirates, she is building grow houses that will harvest 5,000 tons of tomatoes a year.
Cereal trading remains under pressure after the 2017 record harvest, prices were allowed to stagnate this year, said lutz. But with soybeans and tropical fruits, beans and peas, it’s all going auarts. After last year’s poor apple harvests due to bad weather, baywa expects much more this year. "China is now the world’s largest apple producer," lutz said. Every second apple grows there, but most of it is sold as a concentrate, not as dessert fruit in the supermarket. Baywa is the biggest organic apple trader in germany, but "with organic alone we had to send 1000 people home".
The smallest division, building materials trading, which according to lutz "was baywa’s eternal problem child," is also doing well thanks to the good state of the construction industry: "the order books are full."
Baywa made a bottom-line profit of 67 million euros last year (2016: 53 million euros). She plans to distribute almost half of it as dividends. The majority of shares are held by bavarian and austrian raiffeisen cooperatives.