Produce Investments records loss as wet weather hits potato crops

Potato company Produce Investments on Friday reported a loss as wet weather in 2012 impacted crops and pushed up costs.

Potato company Produce Investments on Friday reported a loss as wet weather in 2012 impacted crops and pushed up costs.

The group posted an operating loss of £0.68m for the 26 weeks to December 29th, 2012, down from the prior year's profit of £4.76m.

Chief Executive Angus Armstrong said high rainfall affected potato crops, resulting in the lowest yielding and poorest quality crops since 1976.

"As a consequence of this low yield and high waste crop, free-buy prices for potatoes are exceptionally high and additional imported tonnages are being sourced to fulfil UK market requirements," he said.

"Both of these factors have impacted our raw material costs in the first half of the year and it is likely that this will continue to be the case until we get into next season's crop."

Nevertheless, revenues climbed 13% to £89.67 from £79.38m, driven by increased selling prices across our entire customer base.

Net debt increased to £26.0m from £9.17m, due largely to the acquisition of Cornwall potato grower Rowe Farming.

The firm also announced the appointment of Tony Bambridge as an Executive Director, who is Chairman of the company's UK potato business, Greenvale.

"We are pleased to announce today the appointment of Tony Bambridge to the board with immediate effect," Armstrong said.

"Tony has been involved in the company since 1999 in his role as chairman of Greenvale AP and with his extensive background in the agricultural sector will be a valuable addition to the board."

Looking ahead, Armstrong said every effort was being made to mitigate the increased raw material costs by securing additional price increases across its customer base.

Despite the effects of the climate on the UK potato supply chain, the company expects performance to improve significantly, meeting market expectations for the year.

RD

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