In 2021, against an economic and financial backdrop that remained complex, with a continuation of the crisis related to the Covid pandemic, a volatile environment in North African and Near and Middle Eastern markets, rising inflation, and global supply chain disruptions, the Bel Group showed resilience with consolidated sales totaling €3,379.0 million. Organically, sales continued to grow, advancing 2.3% and underscoring the renewed appeal of the Company’s product offering. Excluding the Middle East and North Africa, organic growth came to 5.0%. On a published basis, consolidated sales declined 2.2% versus 2020, reflecting the negative 0.9% (€29.8 million) impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations and the impact from changes in the scope of consolidation following the sale to Lactalis on September 30, 2021 of assets consisting primarily of the Leerdammer brand.
The year’s organic sales growth was driven by the excellent momentum of Bel’s core brands, in particular Babybel® and Boursin®, MOM’s continued strong growth, further market share gains in North America, and the confirmation of a positive growth trajectory in China, where robust double-digit sales growth was once again achieved. Four out of six core brands reported increased sales versus 2019.
The launch of Nurishh, Bel’s first international, 100% plant-based food brand, as well as the development of innovative plant-based ranges for the core brands also showed promising results during the year. In particular, Nurishh got off to an excellent start in Western Europe, developing quickly into the leading plant-based brand in France and second in Belgium in terms of market share, while the plant-based version of Boursin® met with strong success in the United States and Canada. Lastly, in terms of distribution channels, 2021 was marked by the rise of e-commerce and Out Of Home (OOH) catering, which posted strong double-digit growth sparked notably by the North American and Chinese markets.
In Q4 2021, consolidated sales totaled €811.8 million, down 5.8% on a published basis versus the prior-year period. After adjusting for the impact from the change in consolidation following the sale to Lactalis on September 30, 2021, of assets consisting mainly of the Leerdammer brand, Q4 consolidated sales advanced 10.1%. The increase stemmed from strong organic sales growth of 6.7% and a positive foreign exchange impact of 3.4%, or €25.6 million, primarily as a result of the U.S. dollar’s appreciation against the euro. The organic sales performance was spurred by MOM’s very robust growth and confirmed momentum in the North American and Chinese markets.