Saputo, the privately owned Canadian dairy giant, saw its profits fall last year due to lower prices for cheese and dairy ingredients. The company also blamed higher warehousing costs in the US for the weaker profits.

Announcing results for the 12 months to the end of March 2019, Saputo said adjusted earnings (EBITDA) fell more than 3% last year to just over C$1.2bn (€813m) as earnings margins tightened from 11% in 2017 to 9% last year. Net profits for the year declined 11% to C$755m (€503m).

Although profits fell, Saputo saw its sales soar by 17% to hit C$13.5bn (€9bn) in 2018. This was mainly driven by three acquisitions during the year, most notably the €800m acquisition of Australian dairy co-op Murray Goulburn.

Sales in Saputo’s international division more than doubled on the back of the Murray Goulburn acquisition to C$3bn (€2bn), while profits grew by 90% to reach C$263m (€175m). Saputo’s sales in the US grew by 6% to reach C$6.5bn (€4.3bn), while sales in its home market in Canada fell by 1% to just over C$4bn (€2.7bn).

In April 2019, Saputo completed the €1.1bn acquisition of Dairy Crest, the UK dairy processor based in the southeast of England. Dairy Crest is one of the largest dairy companies in the UK and owns some of the best known and premium butter and cheese brands in the UK retail market, including Cathedral City cheese, Country Life butter and Clover butter.