The CEO of Südzucker, Europe's largest sugar refiner, on Thursday reaffirmed expectations of better full-year profit on hopes the economic impact of the pandemic will subside in coming months.
COVID-19 vaccination levels are continually rising worldwide, despite regional differences, CEO Niels Poerksen told Südzucker's online shareholders' meeting.
"The expected result is that the economic impact (of the pandemic) will be reduced with time," he said.
But the pandemic will still create unknown risks in the company's new 2021/22 financial year.
Last week, the company confirmed lower first-quarter earnings on the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Poerksen repeated Südzucker's forecast of full-year 2021/22 group operating profit of between €300 million and €400 million ($355 million to $473 million).
Poerksen said Südzucker was implementing a new corporate strategy called 2026 Plus which included developing new businesses to participate in the rising global demand for plant-based foods and products.
The strategy could also involve company acquisitions or shareholdings in firms involved in attractive business sectors, including outside Europe, Poerksen said.
The new global demand for plant-based foods, protein and plant-based products generally is seen as a major opportunity with consumers showing great acceptance of plant-based proteins and sustainably-produced products, he said.
"Purchases of shareholdings worldwide can certainly be envisaged for Südzucker," Poerksen said. "As part of the process to develop our new strategy many attractive markets have been identified, including markets outside Europe."
Expansion Into New Sectors
The expansion into new sectors "will not be solely by organic growth," he said.
Along with sugar, Südzucker already has interests including biofuels, processed foods such as pizzas, food ingredients and starches.
"Alternative proteins produced from plants are an attractive market," said Poerksen, adding, "Südzucker will expand in this product sector, building on our current business."
Südzucker makes animal feed using by-products from sugar beet processing and biofuel production from grains. The plant-based raw materials used for sugar, bioenergy and other products have great potential in other sectors.