FRANCE – Danone, a French multinational dairy corporation has recorded net sales of €27.7 billion (US$29.30bn) in 2022, a like-for-like increase of 7.8% on the previous year, despite a drop in its recurring operating margin.

Danone’s sales growth in North America hit 9.7% in 2022, while a rate of 3.4% was recorded in China, north Asia, and Oceania. The figure for the rest of the world was reported to be 9.8%.

The company notes that despite the strong sales figures, its recurring operating margin fell to 12.2% in 2022 from 13.7% in 2021.

The accounts detail that operating income dropped from €2.25 billion (US$2.38B) in 2021 to €2.14 billion (US$2.26B) in 2022, while operating margin fell from 9.3% to 7.7%.

The latest accounts from the world’s largest yoghurt producer also show that the company’s cash flow from operating activities dropped from €3.47 billion (US$3.67bn) to €2.96 billion (US$3.13bn) in 2022.

This decrease was “mainly driven by the strong negative impact of input cost inflation” according to the group.

Despite this, the French group managed to partially offset the effects of this with a positive change in “topline drivers including volume, mix and price”.

Danone’s CEO, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, said: “For Danone, it has been a year of deep transformation and solid delivery.

“Importantly, 2022 was not only a year of strategy and transformation but also one of meaningful progress and delivery.

“We closed a year of solid growth, +7.8% on a like-for-like basis, with all regions and categories contributing. While delivering on our financial commitments for 2022, we started reinvesting significantly in our capabilities, product superiority and brand support.”

In 2022, the company’s Essential Dairy and Plant-based (EDP) unit posted LFL sales growth of 5.8%. Meanwhile, Danone’s Specialized Nutrition business saw sales grow 10% on an LFL basis.

The Waters business recorded LFL sales growth of 10.5% to €4.54 billion (US$4.80bn), despite the year’s “unprecedented external challenges and volatility”.

Building on the 2022 momentum, the company is entering 2023 with renewed ambition and confidence in its strategy, asserted de Saint-Affrique.

“In 2023, we will pursue our transformation, and further invest in our brands, products and capabilities while delivering in line with the mid-term guidance defined last year,” he added.

Danone’s board of directors will propose a dividend of €2/share in respect of the 2022 fiscal year at the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 27.

This will represent an increase of 3.1% on last year’s figure, and Danone has stated that if this is approved, dividends will be paid by May 11, 2023.

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