April 29, 2020 / 2:36 PM / in a month

Spain's Ebro Foods sales boosted by panic shopping and new business

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Ebro Foods (EBRO.MC) sales jumped 22.5% in the first quarter, as more rice and pasta was sold in March amid the coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and America, and helped by the addition of the premium rice brand Tilda to its portfolio.

Ebro Foods, which owns brands such as Garofalo in Italy, Panzani in France and Minute Rice in the United States, said on Wednesday that sales increased to 845 million euros ($918 million).

The company, which says it is the world’s second-largest rice seller and dry and fresh pasta maker, reported adjusted earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) up 26% to more than 106 million euros.

EBITDA climbed even with a spike in operating costs as the company paid for protection kits for staff and other safety measures, spent more on logistics and offered an extra salary to factory workers.

The company said that, after initial fears among consumers about food shortages faded, sales patterns returned to normal.

The company ramped up production of pasta and rice in Western Europe and the United States in March due to growing demand by consumers worried by the coronavirus crisis.

Net profit climbed 29.6% to 47.9 million.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip

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