Fresh start for Freedom Foods

The company, which has a major milk processing plant in Shepparton, faced a critical vote at the AGM on November 18.

Last year, a first strike was recorded when 34 per cent of shareholders voted against the remuneration report. A second strike would have been recorded if 25 per cent had voted against the report this year, leading to a motion to spill the board being put.

Results of the AGM reveal 87.75 per cent of shareholders voted in support of the report, while 9.53 per cent voted against.

Just over 99 per cent of shareholders approved the name change to noumi, a made-up word that chief executive officer Michael Perich said was inspired by the core idea of “nourish me”.

The group, which was plagued by an accounting scandal in 2020, launched a “reset, transform, grow” strategy underpinned by a successful capital raising and the sale of the cereals, snacks and seafood businesses in order to focus on dairy and nutritionals.

The company reported adjusted earnings before tax and interest of $22 million.

Revenue for the full year rose eight per cent to $559 million, delivering pre-tax earnings of $76.4 million — a 141 per cent turnaround on the $54 million loss in the restated accounts for the previous year.

Mr Perich said the company was now in the transformation phase and he reserved a special shout-out to the Shepparton plant, where he said there had been “genuine improvements”.

“I’d like to call out the genuine improvements at our Shepparton plant, where the focus on quality right first time, reducing milk wastage, increasing line efficiencies and reducing complexity, has resulted in progress of key metrics of productivity,” he said.

Sales of PUREnFERRIN lactoferrin products rose 215 per cent for the year and the company also reported strong growth in demand for protein sports nutrition products.

Mr Perich said while COVID-19 had impacted production for two weeks at the Shepparton plant, the headwinds of the pandemic were easing.

“Internally, we will continue to drive the transformation program and focus on our operational turnaround initiatives, which are critical to improving processes at our sites,” he said.

In her address to investors, chair Genevieve Gregor said the new name was needed following the sale of the Freedom Food brands, but it was also a fresh start for the company.

“A clean break with the challenges of the past 18 months for a leading Australian producer of dairy and plant-based beverages, nutritional products and ingredients with a bright future ahead of it,” she said.