Herdwatch acquires vet software companies in Ireland and the UK

Herdwatch announced that it has purchased ComTag in Ireland and Lilac Technology in the UK for an undisclosed seven-figure sum from Highfield Veterinary Group.

ComTag supplies TB and blood testing software solutions for veterinary practices across Ireland, while Lilac Technology has its own TB and blood testing software, TB Master, with customers in England and Wales.

Announcing the deal, Herdwatch says it is developing new products that will enhance the vet-farmer relationship, including the ability for farmers to get prescriptions and advice from their vet directly on the Herdwatch platform.

Last year, the company completed the purchase of Farmplan’s livestock software customers in the UK and Irish software company Kingswood computing.

Global interest

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Fabien Peyaud, CEO and co-founder of Herdwatch said that this is not the end of the company’s expansion plans.

“Global interest in agtech is flying. I’m just off the plane from the United States and the engagement over there is just huge.”

He said to expect the announcement of further acquisitions this year.

Yara profits slump, as company warns on future production

Yara, the Norway-based fertiliser maker, reported a 65% drop in profits for 2023 to $1.71bn (€1.59bn), as turnover dropped by 40% from 2022’s level.

Last year did see a significant drop in key energy prices for Yara, with the average weighted cost of European gas falling from $31.8/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2022 to $14.9MMBtu in 2023.

However, the company said in its fourth quarter earnings release that any savings on energy costs were more than offset by lower prices and subdued demand for its finished product. That subdued demand led to the company curtailing European production by 11% in the last three months of 2023.

Yara said that after a slow start, demand is starting to pick up in both Europe and North America this year with both activity and prices rising.

The longer-term outlook from the company pointed to possible future urea supply shortages, with an historically low number of new projects currently under construction.

Projections published by Yara show future supply growth falling well behind trend consumption growth from 2024 and beyond.

Glanbia’s Optimum Nutrition finds the right Formula

Optimum Nutrition, Glanbia’s $1bn (€933.1m) sports-nutrition brand, has announced a deal which will see it become a sponsor of the McLaren Formula One team from the start of the 2024 season.

Details on the size of the multi-year deal were not released. Optimum Nutrition’s branding will appear on the driver and pit crew overalls for the season, which begins in Bahrain in just over two weeks’ time.

Colin Westcott-Pitt, global chief brand officer, Glanbia Performance Nutrition, said: “We’re delighted that Optimum Nutrition, which has been trusted by all types of athletes across many sports for 35 years, has joined McLaren Racing as Official Sports Nutrition Partner.”

Glanbia plc is scheduled to announce its full-year 2023 results on 28 February.

The announcement will be the first corporate earnings report given by new CEO Hugh McGuire, who took up the role on 1 January, following the retirement of Siobhán Talbot after 10 years at the helm.

Kerry results and share buy-back – update

Speaking of results, Kerry plc is publishing its 2023 numbers on Thursday 15 February.

You can check out farmersjournal.ie from that morning to get the lowdown on how the year went for the global ingredients maker, and see if there is any update on the performance of Kerry Dairy Ireland.

Ahead of that, we took a look at how the Group’s share buyback scheme is progressing.

The programme, announced in October of last year and started in November, is for a total of “up to” €300m, and will end no later than 30 April this year.

So far (up to 13 February 2024), the programme has purchased over €187m of shares.

In the last few days, those purchases have been running at over €4m per day, well ahead of the average since the programme started, of €2.8m per day.

For the uninitiated, a share buyback scheme is where a company spends money buying shares in the market, usually through an agent – in this case, Kerry are using Goldman Sachs International and J&E Davy – and then cancels those shares.