8 August 2018

Saputo sees changes in dairy industry that ‘we quite frankly haven’t seen before’

News

A “crude competitiveness” and “irrational” behaviour from rival businesses in the wake of recent tariffs on U.S. goods are spelling trouble for dairy giant Saputo Inc.

The Montreal-based company said its net income fell by about 37 per cent from $200.3 million to $126 million in its first quarter as it grappled with U.S. rivals, who upped the ante when they started to focus on domestic markets where they go head-to-head with Saputo, and international competitors, who rushed to stockpile products before tariffs on U.S. yogurt imported to Canada took effect on July 1.

“We’re seeing things that are going on in our industry that we quite frankly haven’t seen before and we had seen some pretty intense competition in the past,” said Lino Saputo, the company’s chief executive officer, in a Tuesday earnings call, where he mentioned seeing recent media reports that value Europe’s stockpile of powder used for dairy products at more than 250,000 metric tons and the U.S.’s at about 635,000 metric tons.

Those stockpiles and the cost of acquisitions, operating costs, currency fluctuations and prices for some of Saputo’s products have created a “very very competitive market that we want to protect,” he said.

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