By Annie Gasparro
Mondelez International Inc. said tough lockdowns to fight the coronavirus in emerging markets have hurt sales of its cookies and snacks.
Comparable sales for the maker of Oreo cookies, Toblerone chocolate and Ritz crackers rose 11% in North America in its latest quarter. But in Latin America, where coronavirus cases have multiplied rapidly, sales by that metric fell 11%, Mondelez said Tuesday. In its Asia, Middle East and Africa division, where some countries have imposed stricter social distancing regulations than in North America, comparable sales decreased 3%.
Mondelez shares were flat Tuesday in after-hours trading at $55.64.
Mondelez Chief Executive Dirk Van de Put said the company's emerging markets business improved during the quarter as store closures eased and more consumers were able to access its snacks.
Food companies in the U.S. have been inundated with orders from grocery stores since the pandemic exploded in March. In a country where a lot of people are staying home and can afford to stock up on food, the coronavirus has buoyed sales for the food industry.
But Mondelez has benefited less than its U.S.-centric rivals such as Campbell Soup Co. and Conagra Brands Inc.
Mondelez has also spent more to ramp up production to meet the unprecedented demand in regions such as North America. Mondelez said Covid-19-related costs, higher prices for raw materials and unfavorable exchange rates contributed to a lower profit margin in the latest quarter.
In the latest quarter, Mondelez's total revenue fell 2.5% to $5.9 billion, in line with analysts' estimate, according to FactSet. Adjusted profit of 63 cents a share -- a 16% increase from the prior year excluding currency fluctuations -- topped analysts' projection of 56 cents a share.
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