Südzucker, the German multinational sugar processer parent of the Ensus bioethanol plant on Teesside, has reported a higher full year profit on slightly lower revenues.

The business made an operating profit of €236 million on revenues of €6.68bn in the year ended February 28th 2021, compared to €116m and €6.60bn in the previous twelve months.

CropEnergies, the division that includes Ensus alongside European bioethanol operations, made the highest operating profit in its history – €107m from €104m in 2019/20. Revenues fell to €774m from €819m, as sales volumes dropped in line with plummeting road fuel demand during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the business managed to adjust its production capacity to the widely fluctuating demand volumes and successfully switched to meeting the spike in demand for neutral alcohol for disinfectants and hand sanitisers.

Südzucker’s Sugar segment also returned improved results, reducing its operating loss to €121m on revenues of €2.25bn from the prior year’s -€236m and €2.26bn. Higher sugar prices maintained revenues despite substantially lower volumes from small beet crops in the 2019 and 2020 campaigns. While the sector was boosted in the short-term by sugar panic buying in the early coronavirus lockdown in Europe, this was more than offset by lower demand from the sugar processing industry due coronavirus over the whole period.

The division reports a 12.3% fall in its beet area for the 2020 campaign – particularly in Austria and Poland – to 343,000 hectares (391,000ha in 2019), following its closure of four sugar factories. Sugar production was 3.7 million tonnes (4.5m tonnes in 2019). Organic sugar volumes were also lower due to the smaller crop area. But the volumes of beet feed and molasses co-product were unchanged from the previous year at 1.3m tonnes.

Looking ahead, Südzucker expects group revenues of €7.0 – 7.2bn in the 2021/22 year. It expects Sugar revenues to rise sharply, with CropEnergies ranging between €800 – 850m. However, these estimates depend on the economic and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But in the longer term, Südzucker intends to reposition itself from a large-scale producer of agricultural raw materials to a leading partner of plant-based products for the health and sustainability markets – the Group Strategy 2026 PLUS initiative.