The Cereals & Ingredients Division posted slightly higher gross sales revenue of CHF 18.4 m compared to the previous year (PY CHF 18.0 m); this was achieved with a lower quantity of products sold, at –6.3 % (3,449 tonnes compared to PY 3,681 tonnes), although with a significantly improved product mix. We thus remain on course with our measures for cost optimisation and streamlining the product range. We only just missed our stated turnover target of CHF 20.0 m. In view of the tense market situation in 2016 and the related stagnation of sales in the Swiss retail trade, we are nonetheless satisfied with the overall result.
We were pleased to receive an award for our traditional VIOGERM® Gold Grain product. It was given two stars at the European Taste Award and impressed jurors and customers across the whole of Europe in equal measure: in Sweden, for example, our VIOGERM® Gold Grain is included in wholemeal bars, while in Switzerland it is used as a hazelnut substitute in pastries. A well-known German pasta producer and a major Swiss pastry manufacturer, for example, also use our VIOGERM® Gold Flour in their respective pasta and cracker products, to improve their nutrient content, as well as the taste and texture. In Spain, a well-known brand-name manufacturer enriches protein bars with our VIOGERM® Crisp Flakes.
Demand for ingredients with additional benefits remains high. High-protein and high-fibre products are attracting a great deal of attention, for example, but also lifestyle foods such as vegan products. We have successfully launched new superfood products using quinoa or teff and paleo crisps made from chestnut flour, chia seeds and honey, as well VIOGERM® High Protein Crisps. The latter are perfect for applications with a high proportion of protein as they contain up to 70 % protein.
In the Kids' Food area, we successfully launched the first special products developed in-house using maize and wheatgerm, in collaboration with customers. Other products in the Kids' Food range are at the development stage.
Our marketing activities covered digital and conventional media. We started in the new media field with regular articles on social networks, especially LinkedIn. Throughout the year we also published trade articles and newsletters, achieving a lot of attention from our target audience.
In the current business year our developers will be very busy developing and introducing market-ready Kids' Food products, taking us closer to end-consumers. We will distribute the products through our existing Baby Care sales network, among other channels. We will also certify our extrusion process in order to manufacture organic crisps. This autumn we are also planning a large-scale presence at FiE in Frankfurt, Germany. FiE is one of the world's ten most important trade fairs in the ingredients area. Preparations for this are running at full speed.
For the 2017 business year we expect gross sales revenue to be at the previous year's level. We expect lower turnover in the still declining bakery products market. We intend to make up for this expected drop in turnover through new products in the Kids' Food, Health Ingredients and VIOGERM® areas.
Marbacher Ölmühle GmbH generated gross sales revenue of around CHF 7.2 m in 2016, up +5 % on the previous year (PY CHF 6.8 m). In 2016 the entire sales organisation was successfully restructured.
With the aid of a turbo-mill, Marbacher Ölmühle processes the nutrient-rich press cakes that are made during oil production into fine vegetable flour for the food sector. Sales have started very well as the flour enjoys high demand. It is used for example in low-carb cooking, in gluten-free baking and to produce vegan and vegetarian snack products. The Sunflower seed flour, for example, is a true all-rounder thanks to its excellent binding ability and is very healthy with a protein content of over 50 %.
Marbacher Ölmühle was again able to demonstrate the high quality of its products in 2016. The panel of experts at the Superior Taste Awards awarded two stars to its organic safflower oil. The German Agricultural Society (DLG) also recognised the Bioland sunflower oil with its gold medal and the Naturland rapeseed oil with the DLG award for rapeseed oils – clear testimony to the continuity of our product quality.
In the spring of 2017 the expansion of additional production capacity will be completed. We will install three additional oil presses and, in the course of the year, once again increase our production volume for vegetable oils and flour from oil seeds.
In February 2017 we exhibited at the BioFach trade fair in Nuremberg for the first time with our own stand. BioFach is the world's leading fair for organic foods and a suitable platform to further boost awareness of Marbacher Ölmühle. With this objective in mind, we also refreshed our website.
Once this expansion phase is complete, we expect a further increase in turnover that will significantly exceed market growth.
From May 2016 onwards we were able to generate our first sales, after a slight delay. Since we are a classic start-up firm, our first gross sales revenue was still at a low level. As far as the quality of our products is concerned, we received consistently positive feedback from our customers and we continue to do so.
Our marketing campaigns were geared towards making our products and the Afrikoa brand well known. We communicate actively on several social media channels and on the Internet. We also exhibited at the Winelands Chocolate Festival on 20 and 21 August in the South African town of Stellenbosch. Our trade fair stand was large relative to the size of our business. In this case too, feedback on the three Afrikoa chocolates was consistently positive. We focus on storytelling and emotions in all our marketing activities. Our philosophy is central: «Made in Africa for Africa.»
In addition to the three standard chocolates that are available on the market, we have also been involved in developing a chocolate for diabetics. We will launch this chocolate on the African market in 2017.
The current business year is still dominated by developing the market. We are investing in a more powerful production plant and expect significantly higher gross sales revenue in our second business year.
In addition to launching the above-mentioned chocolate for diabetics, we will develop and produce chocolate for larger business-to-business customers. A new 67 % chocolate is also planned. This chocolate will be developed especially for the «67 minutes/Mandela Day» in South Africa. This charitable institution is very well known in South Africa. Mandela Day is celebrated on 18 July every year.
The Cereals & Ingredients Division intends to defend its position in the area of gently pressed VIOGERM® wheat germ products in Switzerland. Marbacher Ölmühle GmbH is banking primarily on organic vegetable oils and press cakes from organic seeds. We demand high quality when it comes to raw materials, and we therefore work closely with raw materials suppliers in order to guarantee maximum traceability. HOCHDORF South Africa Ltd develops, produces and sells high-quality chocolate to business customers and consumers for and in Africa. On the product side, the Cereals & Ingredients Division is organising the entry into the Kids’ Food area.
Food Ingredients (VIOGERM® wheat germ as well as crispy cereals – crisps), wellness products (gently pressed wheat germ oil, food supplements – capsules and tablets), tonics, instant dessert products (mousse and ice cream powder), cold pressed vegetable oils and various types of vegetable flour from predominantly organic cultivation, and chocolate.