Huon bosses expect investments will pay off – despite disastrous year

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The Tasmanian-based salmon producer, which is the subject of an ongoing takeover bid by Brazilian meat giant JBS, reported losses of €78.9 million earlier this year. But in the company’s annual report, released on Tuesday, Huon’s leadership say they are confident investments made in recent years will help the business grow despite the setbacks of 2020-21.

Read more: Fire, theft and freight costs: Huon announces loss of €78.9 million

“The strong performance of Huon’s farming operations in financial year 2020 was replicated in financial year 2021 as good growing conditions, combined with further productivity gains from the infrastructure delivered through the investment program, produced excellent fish performance,” chairman Neil Kearney and managing director Peter Bender said.

“However, the COVID-related disruption to the global salmon market in the form of reduced demand from the food service sector, higher freight costs and a lower salmon price persisted throughout the year.”

The report described the year as turbulent, with export freight costs more than doubling.

“The domestic market recovered during financial year 2021 from the initial shock of the lockdown in March 2020”.

“Huon’s strong focus on increased sales and volumes into the domestic market succeeded in capturing the majority of volume growth in the market, including increasing its share of the retail segment.

“As hospitality and food service businesses progressively reopened, particularly in the second half of the year, the company experienced a steady increase in demand from the domestic wholesale market.

“By the end of the financial year, wholesale volumes were close to matching the previous record achieved in financial year 2017.”