Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin

August 30, 2021

Bega Cheese’s annual sales revenue for 2020-21 has risen 39 per cent over the previous 12 months, topping $2.07 billion.

This was up $580.2 million over 2019-20, full-year audited results released to the ASX on Friday show.

Bega – which owns the Peanut Company of Australia in Kingaroy – attributed the rise in annual revenue to its $528 million acquisition of Lion Dairy and Drinks during the past year.

This purchase led to Bega more than doubling its workforce to over 4000 employees and expanding its cold chain distribution network to be one of the largest in Australia.

Consolidated debt rose from $231 million to $325 million, which the company said was mainly due to $125 million in borrowings to partially fund the Lion acquisition.

The increase was offset by operating cash inflows of $114.4 million.

The company announced a final fully franked dividend of 5 cents per share, taking the total dividend for the year to 10 cents per share.

Bega’s annual report noted there had been a “significant increase” in the volume of peanuts harvested, due to improved weather conditions and “active peanut grower engagement”.

“The FY2021 harvest was the largest since 2013 following several years of challenging growing conditions and industry uncertainty prior to our acquisition of PCA back in 2018,” the report stated.

“The current forecast is for favourable weather conditions in key growing regions in Queensland which will support new crop planting towards the end of calendar year 2021.”

The final resolution of the ongoing dispute – in Australian and US courts – with Kraft Heinz over peanut butter “trade dress” (ie. labelling and packaging) resulted in Bega receiving $9.25 million in June this year.

Executive chairman Barry Irvin said the company had experienced a softening in demand for infant formula due to changes in the Chinese market.

CEO Paul van Heerwaarden noted in the annual report that Bega would continue to look for opportunities to further diversify its customer base across a variety of markets to mitigate the potential impact of “geopolitical tensions” which have seen a change in demand for some products in the international market.

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