Yoram Knoop, CEO of ForFarmers: “For ourselves and our customers, 2021 was a turbulent year in which we were impacted by challenges including rising input costs, animal diseases and increasing pressure on the agricultural sector. Despite many of our employees having suffered Covid infections and the many challenges we faced in the supply chain, we were able to continue supplying our customers well. Our results were affected by the fact that prices for raw materials rose faster than the prices for products sold by and to our customers. In these circumstances, it proved difficult in the chain to pass on the significant rises in energy prices on top of the higher raw material prices. In addition, we had an incident involving unfavourably priced sales contracts in Germany in the first half year, putting pressure on our margins. At the same time, however, we saw a recovery of results in Poland and a solid contribution from the acquisitions in the Dutch poultry sector (De Hoop Mengvoeders) and the horse sector (Mühldorfer), with both companies having been acquired in early 2021. Following the acquisition of De Hoop, the growing poultry sector is currently the largest sector in our portfolio, before ruminants and swine. The number of ftes has (like-for-like) declined due to the implementation of our efficiency programme, which puts us ahead of the cost savings plan. Nevertheless, we saw a sharp decline in underlying EBITDA.
We expect raw material and energy prices to remain high, given the worrying political situation between Russia and Ukraine. We therefore expect continued pressure on margin and costs during 2022 and consequently on underlying EBITDA, which will show a substantial decline (YoY) in the first half year of 2022 in particular.
We aim to enhance our market position by focusing on optimal customer experience, sustainability and innovation. At the same time we continue to leverage our scale, work on realising acquisitions and optimise our cost levels. In addition, in light of the changes and challenges in the agricultural sector, we have started a process to evaluate our strategy and, where necessary, to tighten it. The outcome hereof will be presented later this year. Our employees have once again made a huge effort and have shown flexibility and commitment in 2021, for which I am extremely grateful. As announced previously I will be stepping down after the General Meeting of Shareholders in April. The search for my successor is in full swing. In the meantime ForFarmers will continue to focus fully on a sustainable future perspective for all its stakeholders, in line with its mission For the Future of Farming.”