Shareholders of Ravensdown Fertiliser were told “foundations for the future growth of the co-operative have been firmly established” at the annual meeting of the co-operative in Nelson yesterday (September 27).
Chairman Bill McLeod told shareholders that these ‘foundations’ were in the form of a strengthened business operation in Australia, heavy investment in upgraded manufacturing capability, and the bringing to market new products and services that would assist members to improve on-farm productivity while operating more sustainably.
He said Ravensdown was now a significant trans-Tasman manufacturer and marketer of the farm inputs that contribute to growing pasture, animal products and crops more effectively, efficiently and sustainably.
“In the 2011 financial year Ravensdown achieved its highest ever operating profit and paid out its best ever return to shareholders.
“We also lifted total assets by $95m to a total of $786m.”
McLeod said the lift in assets reflected the on-going investment in upgrading manufacturing and stores facilities and the increases in working capital requirements needed to fund increased sales and higher stock levels due to the different growing seasons between New Zealand and Australia.
While minimising working capital requirements remained a focus, Ravensdown now had to ensure adequate stocks of fertiliser were on hand across the two different growing seasons.
He said the co-operative was continuing with its policy of returning 80% of its equity to shareholders through the issue of bonus shares to transacting shareholders.
This policy had seen shareholder investment grow from $20 a tonne in 1977 to $202 a tonne in 2011, a 900% growth.
Chief Executive Rodney Green told shareholders that a major challenge facing shareholders in the immediate future was around “environmental issues”.
“There is increasing pressure for farmers to demonstrate they are operating more sustainably.
“This is why the co-operative has invested in innovative and leading edge technology such as eco-n.
“Our role has always been to assist our members to succeed in the business of farming, and assisting you to operate in a sustainable way is now very much a part of our core business.”