October 26, 2013 12:08 am

Ukraine eggmaker’s hard-boiled expansion plan

AvangardCo, the London-listed Ukrainian egg producer, has increased its output in the first nine months of the year to more than 5bn eggs, as it aims to take on a larger US rival and become the world’s biggest egg producer.

The Ukrainian company, which listed shares on the London Stock Exchange in 2010, has invested $500m over the past four years to construct two major poultry complexes and a new egg processing plant.

On Friday, the group reported a 9 per cent increase in egg production in the nine months to September 30, which has allowed it to expand its exports to 33 countries – primarily the fast growing markets of the Middle East, north Africa, and Central Asia.

Having started out as a purely domestic egg supplier, the company said it derived a quarter of its sales from exports in the first half of this year – and expects to begin exporting to the EU next year.

Between January and September, AvangardCo increased both its poultry flock size and its overall egg output.

The total poultry flock grew by 15 per cent to 31.4m birds, while the number of laying hens increased by 14 per cent to 24.6m, producing 5.12bn eggs in the nine month period.

Last year, the company had 22.8m laying hens while the total number of eggs produced reached 6.3bn in 12 months. It now has the second largest flock of hens globally after Cal-Maine Foods of the US.

Although its eggs are not free-range, they are produced in compliance with EU food regulation standards, a representative for the company said.

AvangardCo specialises in fresh eggs as well as the higher-margin powered, or processed, eggs – and has avoided the grain price problems faced in Russia.

While Russian egg producers have had to pay higher grain prices – an increase that is starting to be transferred on to consumers – Ukraine is forecast to report a record grain harvest this year. In the first six months of the year, sales rose by 7.3 per cent to $304.3m while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 10.3 per cent to $134.7m.

On Friday, AvangardCo’s London global depositary receipts rose 4 per cent to $13, but they remain 13 per cent down on their 2010 initial public offering price.

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