22 Aug 2017

Honey company's profit slashed by poor season

3:49 pm on 22 August 2017

Honey products company Comvita's profits have halved this year after a poor honey season and market problems with China.

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Honey bees "are in great condition" for the next season, the company says. Photo: 123rf.com

The company has announced a full year profit of $9.8 million, compared to $18.5m in its 2016 financial year.

The bottom line was lifted by a $15m gain from the sale of its Medihoney brand.

Revenue fell by nearly a third to $156 million.

Chief executive Scott Coulter said this year's result was driven by two factors.

"The honey harvest was very poor, we had wet and windy conditions through last summer which wasn't good for bees. The net result of that was we got about a third of the honey we expected.

"The other factor was grey channel sales to China, the Chinese changed the rules in April 2016 and that affected our sales significantly for about 12 months."

Mr Coulter said this year was looking better.

"In summary, based on an assumption of a normal 2017/18 honey production season and a partial recovery of the grey channel we would expect after tax operating earnings for FY18 to be at least equal to our after tax operating earnings of $17.1m achieved in FY16 (over the comparable 12 month period)."

He said honey production was expected to pick back up.

"The bees are in great condition, they didn't have much work to do ... last year and quite often with mānuka honey if you have a poor year plants respond by producing extra nectar the year after.

"We're really quietly confident that we should have a good beekeeping season, but of course we are weather dependent."

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