JAPAN – Yamazaki Baking Co., the Japanese leader in manufactured bread and baked goods showed improved net sales to US$9.84 billion in the fiscal year 2017, a 1.1% increase boosted by growth from the company’s processed bread, prepared rice and processed noodle.

Strong performance from the bread and sweet buns contributed to a 1.3% increase in the food business’ total sales to US$9.26 trillion.

Western-style confectionery business saw a 0.7% rise in sales to US$1.27 trillion, the good performance being set off by biscuits, crackers, sembei and Japanese-style confectionery segments which experienced a decline in sales.

In the year ended December 31, 2017, the company recorded an operating profit of US$281 million, a drop from US$331.64 billion in the year 2016.

Japanese-style confectionery comprising of the desserts and sweets posted a 0.3% decline in sales while the biscuits, crackers, sembei and other merchandise category recorded a higher decline that is, 0.7%.

Yamazaki projects to improve its net sales to US$10.10 billion while expecting operating income to improve to US$339.48 million, a 20% increase from 2017 fiscal year.

The company continues to grow its net sales even after Mondelez ended a long-term partnership with the company to sell Oreo cookies, Ritz and Premium crackers in Japan.

As Yamazaki targets to turn around its profit margin, it’s picking up on a sustainable growth trend that is likely to be boosted by a growing pool of consumers who want premium bread and pastries in Japan.

According to the company, the growth plan was complemented by its Daily Yamazaki convenience store operations, and these would be initiated through ‘key control’ convenience stores, introduced in 2017.