Tropical fruits group Fyffes was faced with a record loss of almost €170 million last year as it was forced to take large impairment charges against its melon and mushroom businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic and group restructuring.
The Dublin-based, Japanese-owned company also disclosed in its latest annual report that its long-standing executive chairman David McCann and finance director Tom Murphy shared €7.46 million in exit payments as they left the company last year. Tokyo-based conglomerate Sumitomo bought Fyffes four years ago in a €751 million deal.
The loss for 2020 compared with an almost €20 million profit for the previous year. Fyffes took a €62.8 million impairment charge against its Canadian mushrooms assets before selling the unit, called Highline Produce Ltd, to its immediate parent Summit Fresh Produce Ltd for a nominal one Canadian dollar.
Fyffes, best known for its banana, melon and pineapple distribution operations, ventured into the North American mushroom business in April 2016 through its acquisition of Highline Produce in a deal that was worth the equivalent of €97.7 million at the time. It followed up months later with the €40 million purchase of another Canadian firm, All Seasons Mushroom, and carried out further deals growing the business under Sumitomo.
Fyffes said that its US melon unit was most severely affected by the onset of the Covid-19 crisis last year, as it coincided with a key part of the import season from Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. A slump in demand for melons resulted in significant levels of dumping in both production regions but also in the US.