Webster Limited expects continued growth in walnut sales and demand.
“The walnut marketing and sales effort has been bolstered during the year, having received confirmation of a supply agreement with a second domestic retailer commencing this year,” Webster told the ASX.
“A strengthening of domestic sales for Webster’s Australian walnuts, along with a moderate improvement in the international market, will see continued growth in demand and sales for our products.”
New South Wales-based Webster, which grows walnuts in Tasmania and New South Wales and accounts for more than 90 per cent of the annual national crop, said its 2018 walnut harvest would total about 9500 tonnes.
It said that would be the second biggest walnut production in its history, behind 2017.
“This result is a solid performance when accounting for the adoption of new pruning methodology … which, it is expected, will provide long-term yield benefits,” the company’s half-yearly report for the period until March 31 said.
“Yield was lower than expectations due to a re-occurrence of a non-pollination event significantly affecting the later flowering variety.”
Webster reported net profit after tax of $3.8 million for the half.
Revenue and other income totalled $47.9 million.
Chairman Chris Corrigan said the company further strengthened and diversified its asset base during the period.
“We diversified our horticultural operations with the $16.8 million acquisition of the Sandy Valley almond orchard in New South Wales,” Mr Corrigan said.
“We also acquired a 1000 hectare greenfield development adjacent to our Avondale walnut orchard for $4.8 million and an additional 150 hectares adjoining our Leeton walnut orchard for $500,000.”
The company also bought a 50,000 hectare property called Packsaddle in far western New South Wales for $7 million, expanding Webster’s existing organic dorper sheep business.