Higher sales offset Lassonde’s fruit costs

A 35 per cent jump in first-quarter sales helped cover increased costs for Quebec juice processor Lassonde Industries’ raw materials.

Lassonde, whose juice brands include Rougemont and Oasis, posted $5.79 million in net earnings on $118.5 million in sales for its first quarter ending March 29, compared to $2.72 million on $87.2 million in the year-earlier period.

The 90-year-old company, whose business includes four apple pressing plants in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, said the boost in sales came both from “organic growth” due to increased market share in most sales territories, as well as from two new businesses Lassonde bought in late 2007.

The company’s cost of goods sold and operating expenses were up by over 30 per cent, but they decreased as a percentage of net sales, it noted, due to the combined effect of economies of scale resulting from higher sales, and of “sharp increases in raw material prices affecting fruit concentrates and freshly squeezed juices in 2007.”

The company’s results beat its expectations and bode well for the rest of 2008, CEO Pierre-Paul Lassonde said in a release Friday.

“We must, however, remain vigilant in the face of potential
increases in the cost of certain raw materials,” he said.

The company’s apple presses are supplied largely by growers in the main apple-producing areas of Eastern Canada. It said it also buys tomatoes and other vegetables in the region and sources other fruits and vegetables from about 20 other countries.

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