May 24, 2016 / 1:11 PM / 2 years ago

German sugar refiner Nordzucker targets expansion in Africa

HAMBURG, May 24 (Reuters) - Germany’s second-largest sugar refiner Nordzucker is planning to expand into Africa, it said on Tuesday.

The company’s core European markets remain the main growth focus as the EU liberalises its sugar market, said CEO Hartwig Fuchs at a press conference to present the unlisted group’s results, but Africa’s growing population and robust sugar demand make the region an attractive area for expansion.

“We want to grow internationally and we have listed several areas and regions for this,” Fuchs said. “Sub-Saharan Africa remains a theme.”

Nordzucker said that turnover in its 2015/16 financial year to the end of February fell 14 percent year on year to 1.6 billion euros ($670.38 million), with net profit down to 15 million euros from 20 million euros.

The company was burdened by low EU sugar prices but an expected world sugar deficit should support prices this year, Fuchs said.

Nordzucker, which also operates in Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Slovakia, added in its results statement that it is considering an engagement in “a related agricultural sector” but gave no further details.

In 2014 plans for expansion in Zambia were discussed but Fuchs said these had been abandoned because of changed conditions there.

“We still have great interest to engage on both the production side and the consumer side (in Africa) and we are financially positioned to be able to do this, but there must be a good fit,” he said. ($1 = 0.8950 euros) (Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by David Goodman)

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