Singapore’s Wilmar International first-half profit drops 50% on weak demand

(Reuters) -Singapore-listed agribusiness Wilmar International reported a 50% slump in its first-half core net profit on Friday, due to weak performance in the food products, plantation and sugar milling segments.

Sales of consumer food products slowed down as more people resumed dining out after COVID-induced lockdown curbs were lifted in China, while a slowing economy also hit consumer demand.

Revenue from China in the half-year dropped 6.8% from last year to $16.83 billion.

Chief Executive Kuok Khoon Hong said the results for the first half of 2023 were significantly lower than the comparable first half of last year, as most of the company’s markets, with the exception of India, experienced a slowdown in the second quarter of 2023.

Kuok believes the second half of 2023 will be better than the first half.

The company, one of the world’s largest food producers, said core net profit was $577.2 million for the half year ended June 30, down from $1.16 billion last year.

Pre-tax profit from the food products segment came in at $82.7 million in the half-year, as compared with $521.5 million a year earlier.

Wilmar said its plantation and sugar milling segment was impacted by lower palm oil prices and weaker volume of sugar sales.

The company proposed an interim dividend of 6 Singapore cents per share, unchanged from last year.

(Reporting by Upasana Singh and Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)