However, earnings from operations increased significantly from C$306m (US$233m) in 2015 to C$411.7m (US$313.4m) in 2016, a 34.6% increase.
"We are very pleased to be reporting substantially improved earnings in 2016," Robert Coallier, CEO of Agropur, said.
"The encouraging numbers reflect the wide-ranging improvement efforts and successes of our 8,000 employees in a still-uncertain market environment.”
The Canadian dairy cooperative expanded its business in 2016 including a C$300m (US$228m) investment from Quebec institutional investors in Agropur, and a new C$90m (US$68.5m) head office complex.
It also recently completed the acquisition of Scotsburn’s ice cream and frozen desserts business.
"Agropur's performance is the result of the sum of all the initiatives we have taken in recent years: our mergers and acquisitions, our cost-cutting programs, our major investments in our brands and in our facilities in both Canada and the US,” Agropur president Serge Riendeau said at the annual general meeting.
Riendeau also announced he will be officially stepping down from his post as Agropur president. René Moreau, former vice president of Agropur, will take over as the new president of the organization.
Brands perform well
The cheese and milk brand, OKA, has grown its volume by 75% since its repositioning in 2013. Olympic and iögo posted the strongest growth in the fresh dairy products category with 10% and 6% increases respectively, compared with a 3% average, Agropur reported.
Integration and acquisition focus
In 2016, Agropur focused on fully integrating its acquisitions through investment and restructuring. The recent acquisition of Scotsburn's assets will expand Agropur's footprint in the ice cream and novelties market.
The organization made a C$150m (US$114m) investment in its production facilities, which included a C$58m (US$44m) investment in increasing feta production capacity at the Weyauwega plant in Wisconsin in order to strengthen its leading position and maintain the number one position in feta production in the US.
“Our sustainability depends on growth,” Coallier said. “We intend to continue our expansion in order to remain a major player in a fast-consolidating industry.”
According to Agropur, it invests nearly C$15m (US$11.2m) into research and development in Canada and the US annually in an effort to keep creating innovative agrifood concepts.
In October 2016, Agropur launched its “Inno Challenge” as a way to help develop a structure and culture of innovation within the organization with the goal of “reinventing dairy.” Three concepts were chosen from the more than 60 projects that were submitted.