South African fruit exports benefited from a poor crop in the US and a weak rand, Pioneer Foods said in its 2018 financial year results released on Monday morning. Pioneer’s international division more than doubled its operating profit to R285m in the year to end-September from R121.5m, helping the group’s overall operating profit grow 26% to R1.6bn. Pioneer segments itself into three divisions, of which the largest is “essential foods”, contributing 59% of revenue and 57% of operating profit. Essential foods suffered a 4.9% decline in revenue to R11.9bn, but grew operating profit 14% to R915m. “Although an exceptional maize recovery supported year-on-year profit improvement, the milling and baking segments of essential foods came under further pressure in the second semester through intensified competition, consumer down-trading within basic staple categories and increased cost pressure related to a weakening currency,” CEO Tertius Carstens said in the results statement. Pioneer’s ...

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