Raisio’s third quarter was characterised by adjustments to the second, rising wave of the ongoing pandemic. Demand for our consumer products fluctuated strongly between the different markets, while the performance of the Healthy Ingredients Segment was steadier and corresponded more as anticipated. As a whole, the period was marked by weak predictability. New lockdown measures were being planned and implemented widely within our market areas as we approached the end of the quarter. Societies, consumers and business life are still growing accustomed to today’s new normal.
In these conditions, we continued to focus on our core activities, which include the securing of production and operations, the provision of service to our customers and support for the maintenance of our personnel’s work ability. We cannot choose our operating environment or affect currency movements, but we can demonstrate our capacity to be flexible, to manage our cost structure and to continue to pursue our strategy with confidence. We succeeded commendably in realising these tasks. It is reflected in our ability to sustain exceptional profitability and to look to the future with determination and assurance.
Development within the Finnish consumer market was extremely strong, as it has been throughout this entire year. We continued to see dynamic growth within our key brands and we were able to launch more new products under these brands. Consumer products returned to a growth path and this included also our Elovena snack products, which suffered early in the year as a result of the self-isolating trend caused by the pandemic.
The heavy restrictions in Western European market, particularly in the UK market important to Raisio, continued to have a negative impact on the demand for Benecol products throughout the quarter. In Poland, development was weak for the same reasons. In Russia, sales in rubles increased strongly, but the development of the exchange rate was not on our side. The change in the purchasing behaviours of consumers outside of Finland has been greater than that within Finland and represents less visits to the shops, an increase in new distribution channels and
emphasised price sensitivity.
During the third quarter, Raisioaqua’s sales were significantly lower than during the comparison period. The new export markets in Sweden and Poland were met with intense price competition. Customer loyalty remained high, with the exception of one significant Nordic company that shifted its purchasing to a competitor. Throughout the period, we have supported the development taking place in the overall fish farming industry through extensive influencing work.
Raisio has recently undertaken significant investments. One of Raisio’s strategic goals is to establish value-added oats as the other strong pillar of the company alongside its Benecol business. The modernisation of the Nokia oat mill, which was completed at the start of this year, has demonstrated its vital role as a contributor to Raisio’s future growth. The sales of value-added oats, both in Finland and abroad, is growing, even beyond our expectations, despite the currently difficult conditions. The construction of a new production facility within Raisio’s carbon-neutral industrial area has proceeded according to plan. The recruitment needed for the opening and starting the production at the facility has been completed and shows in the increased number of personnel at Raisio.
Due to the extended period of exceptional circumstances, the net sales for the third quarter decreased clearly in relation to the comparison period to EUR 65.1 (69.2) million. Despite this, EBIT retained nearly the same level as that of the comparison period, being 15.0 (15.5) per cent of net sales. For the current year so far, net sales remained nearly at the same level as those of the comparison period and EBIT improved to be EUR 23.3. (23.0) million and 13.0 (12.6) per cent of net sales. Cash flow before investments was a strong EUR 18.8 (13.8) million. Raisio’s investments are growing dynamically as we implement projects designed to support our strategy. The most significant of these is the investment in the development and production facility for our plant-based added-value products, which has proceeded according to plan. The current year’s investments have so far totalled EUR 23.0 (10.9) million, or 12.8 (6.0) per cent of net sales. Raisio is a profitable and highly solvent company that invests strongly in future growth. I would once again like to express my gratitude to all our personnel, including those in production, in our offices and working remotely.