So Natural Foods Australia, the country's largest producer of soymilk and other soya-based products, said it expected to record a full year loss for 2001, despite a profitable second half.
The company said losses of A$1.18 million (€0.7m) in the second half of the year were due primarily to the inclusion of a number of exceptional items, including the write-down of assets and restructuring costs. Without these exceptional items, the company would have recorded a profit for the half.
The company's sales rose to A$11.73 million from A$11.2 million during the half.
"The combined effect of the write-downs and other one-off adjustments will be a loss for the full year," So Natural Foods said.
However, the company said that trading for the current half was profitable, and that it expected a profit of around A$500,000 for the six months to June. "The financial position of the company remains sound and fully able to support present product initiatives," it said.
The results for 2001 were all the more disappointing, So Natural Foods said, because the market for its flagship product, long life soy milk, had stabilised during the year. "However, we did not achieve our sales expectations or meet market demand primarily due to continuing production disruptions," it said.
There was some good news, however, with the So Natural "Fresh" soy range trebling sales during the period and the So Natural rice drink also experiencing strong growth. Further launches are planned to extended the rice drink range, the company said.
The Australia's Own brand also performed well after converting the soy yoghurt range to organic beans. "This has been received well and we are assessing our variant offering and production techniques to deliver further product improvements," So Natural Foods said.
The recent launch of liquid breakfast drink Xpress was also disappointing, the company admitted.
The company is looking to expand its export business, which already covers ten countries, including New Zealand, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. "Initial orders are scheduled for the current half into the USA and China. We believe there is significant potential to build these initiatives."
So Natural Foods said it was also exploring new growth opportunities with Bega Co-operative Society following a placement of shares in September 2001.