The planning for the next strategy period got underway at Raisio at the beginning of the year. The implementation of the internationalization plans for the current strategy period 2019-2021 met with notable delays as a result of obstacles caused by the pandemic. The chosen focus on plant-based value added products has, however, proven to be the right decision and Raisio Group will continue to pursue this chosen path. In June, we announced that Raisio would be targeting three areas of focus for the strategy period leading up to 2025. Benecol® and plant stanol ester solutions, value added oat products and plant-based products will form the core of the company’s operations. The production facility, which was completed on time and within budget, and the Verso Food acquisition in April both support the company’s advancement within these rapidly growing plant-based food markets.
The pandemic that took hold the previous spring has caused considerable anomalies in Raisio’s market environment, and fluctuations in certain market and customer segments have been unprecedentedly large. During the second quarter, net sales grew 11.3% from the comparison period to a total of EUR 66.7 (59.9) million. Comparable EBIT was EUR 5.3 (7.0) million during the spring quarter and accounted for 7.9 (11.6)% of net sales. The company’s financial performance was burdened by costs from the start-up of the new production facility and the as yet unprofitable EBIT of Verso Food Oy, which was acquired in April. The cash flow from operations was strong at EUR 12.2 (6.0) million.
During the last three years Raisio has invested strongly in its capabilities to develop and produce plant-based value added products. The investments have totalled as much as around EUR 65 million over the past few years. The investments of the second quarter totalled EUR 6.0 (7.2) million, or 9.0 (12.1) per cent of net sales. The investments of the first half-year totalled EUR 12.5 (12.9) million, thereby representing 10.7 (11.3) per cent of net sales. At our Capital Markets Day event, we talked about our goals and the means to reach them, whereby we intend to capitalise on the possibilities offered by our strong investments within these compelling markets.
The ever-changing pandemic situation within the different markets has continued to have an impact on demand, but in the UK market, for example, we managed to adapt to the new situation, particularly through changes in distribution, and the resulting development has been positive in relation to the comparison period. On the whole, the demand situation within the markets in which Raisio operates has stabilised in terms of volume fluctuations, but, as I see it, the effects of the pandemic, such as the strong growth in online shopping, will permanently affect market dynamics.
As a result of the corporate acquisition realised in April, the operations of Verso Food Oy have been incorporated into Raisio’s existing operations and its personnel into our operational organisation. We promptly realised a value creation programme to ensure continued growth and improved profitability for this strategic area of focus. In the course of the value creation programme, it became clear that our acquisition has boosted the enthusiasm of Raisio’s entire personnel, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our personnel as we advance along the road towards new growth.