LONDON — Global food and beverage companies seeking to improve the nutritional qualities of their products, such as by reducing sugar, has created a demand for ingredients from London-based Tate & Lyle, P.L.C.
Adjusted operating profit within the company’s Food & Beverage Solutions segment rose to £90 million ($115 million) in the first half of the fiscal year, which was up 17% from £77 million in the first half of the previous fiscal year. First-half sales in the segment rose 8% to £478 million ($613 million) from £443 million.
Price and mix management drove sales growth on flat volume, and, when combined with operational leverage, led to the double-digit profit growth, said Nick Hampton, chief executive officer, in a Nov. 7 earnings call.
“This business continues to operate in an attractive growing market driven by some major global trends,” he said. “Consumers continue to seek healthier alternatives from their food and drink and want greater transparency with cleaner labels and more natural ingredients. An increase in vegan and flexitarian diets is driving demand for more plant-based options, and people continue to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets.
“Food & Beverage Solutions has a deep understanding of these trends and each presents significant opportunities. Our expertise in sweeteners, texture and fiber enrichments, together with our insight in our focus categories, means we can develop solutions for our customers to meet consumer demands. This expertise is increasingly valued by our customers and is being translated into top-line growth.”
He said sugar reduction represents about one-third of the projects in the pipelines of Tate & Lyle customers. Tate & Lyle’s fiber sales, thanks in part to these projects, grew 29% in North America in the first half, he said.
“Many sugar reduction projects use our soluble fibers, not only because they allow the amount of sugar to be lowered but also provide nutritional benefits such as digestive health, low-glycemic response and calcium absorption, all without impacting taste,” Mr. Hampton said.
Tate & Lyle is experiencing sales growth in the dairy category in China as customers seek to launch new products lower in sugar, fat and calories.
“This is reflected in a 24% increase in sales of our specialty food starches in the Asia-Pacific region during the half,” Mr. Hampton said.
Sugar reduction is a big trend in Latin America. Peru and Chile already have regulations in place that require additional labeling on the front of product packaging if the product is high in sugar, fat or salt, he said, adding similar regulations have been proposed in Brazil and Mexico.
“This provides both challenges for our customers and opportunities for us,” Mr. Hampton said.
Within Latin America in the first half, Tate & Lyle’s fiber sales increased 13% while natural sweetener sales increased 43%.
Within Food & Beverage Solutions, adjusted operating profit for sucralose rose 5% to £29 million from £27 million in the previous year’s first half. Sucralose sales dipped 1% to £76 million from £77 million.
“Sucralose performed solidly as lower volume was offset by good customer mix,” said Imran Nawaz, chief financial officer of Tate & Lyle, in the Nov. 7 call.
Companywide, Tate & Lyle’s profit before tax of £181 million ($232 million) was up 3% from £166 million in the first half of the previous year. In constant currency change, the increase was 3%. Sales in the first half rose 7% to £1,476 million ($1,892 million) from £1,383 million.
Within Tate & Lyle’s Primary Products segment, adjusted operating profit in the first half of the fiscal year was £86 million, up 1% from £85 million in the same time of the previous year. First-half sales were £922 million, up 7% from £863 million.
“In bulk sweeteners, demand for carbonated soft drinks in the U.S. continued to decline by 1.6%, and U.S. exports to Mexico were slightly lower,” Mr. Hampton said. “We also had to manage the impact of corn price volatility.”
He said the Primary Products team offset headwinds in the first half through operational and supply chain performance.
“We expect these market headwinds will persist in the near term, and so Primary Products continues to execute against a clear set of actions,” Mr. Hampton said. “It is focused on managing its portfolio to maximize margins, increasing operational efficiency and diversifying capacity toward new and growing markets.”