Ebro Foods pasta - Creamette and American Beauty
In American Beauty and Creamette, Ebro Foods reinforced the quality of American wheat.

MADRID, SPAIN — Fiscal 2016 was an important year for Ebro Foods as the Madrid-based company said it spent time and money “investing in product launches and reinforcing our brands.”

Net profit in the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, was €169,724,000 ($178,826,000), up 17% from €144,846,000 in fiscal 2015. Sales slipped to €2,459,246,000 ($2,590,743,000) from €2,461,916,000.

Ebro said its financials were buoyed by a record year from the company’s rice division, which saw operating profit increase nearly 14% to €169,240,000, while EBITDA improved by approximately 11% to €196,264,000. Sales were flat, finishing at €1,283,853,000, which compared with €1,287,727,000 in fiscal 2015.

“In North America, an abundant yet low quality harvest kept the market very stable throughout the year,” Ebro said. “The international market continues to be very competitive, with strong harvests, stable prices and no sudden changes anticipated.”

Ebro described 2016 as a “highly productive year” for launches, with the company debuting more than 82 new products. The company also successfully created a new category within its ready-to-serve (R.-T.-S.) concept, which previously only included rice.

“We leveraged our brands to tap into new grains (quinoa, chia, etc.) and pulses, and we continue to develop new products with a view to combining healthy eating and convenience,” the company said.

Operating profit in the pasta division fell 11% to €93,294,000, down from €104,957,000 in fiscal 2015. Sales, meanwhile, increased 1% to €1,236,227,000 from €1,224,492,000.

“In North America we are operating in a complicated market with elaborate promotional calendars and high levels of competition,” Ebro said. “It has been a big year for launches, mainly the health and wellness segment, where we had previously had most difficulty. Ancient grains, supergreens, gluten-free and organics have made up for some of the market position lost in whole grain pastas. We have invested heavily in our brands to provide them with values that are easily identified by the local consumer and which are capable of tapping into the latest food trends. For example, in American Beauty and Creamette, we have reinforced the quality of American wheat and the local profile of our brands.”