May 5, 2020 / 1:42 PM / in 22 days

Top canned tuna producer Thai Union sees sales jump amid coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: The logo of The Thai Union Group is pictured at its R&D lab in Bangkok, Thailand, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The world’s largest producer of canned tuna, Thai Union Group Pcl (TU.BK), on Tuesday posted a 5.9% increase in sales in its first quarter ending in March as consumers stocked up on canned food amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Thai Union, which owns the Chicken of the Sea canned-tuna brand, reported sales of 31.1 billion baht ($959.88 million) in its best first-quarter in three years, attributing growth to the consumer response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“The sales increase was attributable mainly to a strong sales volume growth of 6.7% year-on-year as consumers practice social distancing and more home cooking,” Thai Union said in a statement.

The company booked operating profit of 1.53 billion baht, a 49% increase from the same period a year earlier from rising tuna prices.

“The world changed dramatically in the first quarter with the impact of COVID-19 felt all around the world,” Chief Executive Thiraphong Chansiri said.

Thai Union reported net profit of 1.01 billion baht, down 20% from the same period last year due to foreign exchange losses and the closure of the Red Lobster restaurant chain due to lockdown regulations in the United States.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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