Fourth quarter sales of $5.0 billion were in line with prior year, with organic sales up 3 percent, driven by a 2 percent increase in price from ongoing revenue growth management programs and a 1 percent favorable product mix, with volumes in line with the prior year period and volume trends improving for the fourth consecutive quarter. In North America, organic sales increased 3 percent over last year, including increases of 5 percent in Personal Care and 3 percent in Consumer Tissue that were partially offset by a 3 percent decrease in K-C Professional. Outside North America, organic sales were up 5 percent in developing and emerging (D&E) markets. Organic sales in developed markets (Australia, South Korea and Western/Central Europe) grew 1 percent versus prior year. Gross margin improved by 210 basis points to 34.9 percent, with higher net revenue realization, cost savings and favorable input costs partially offset by unfavorable currency impacts and higher other manufacturing costs. Fourth quarter operating profit was $670 million compared to $712 million last year, resulting in an operating margin of 13.5 percent.
In a recent supplier award ceremony, Ahlstrom was recognized specifically for their packaging contributions to the Taco Bell® brand.
“We are extremely humbled to have received this recognition from our Taco Bell® partners,” commented Travis Dahlke, Vice President of Ahlstrom’s North American Food business. Dahlke and members of his team accepted the award during the event. “This is a result of strong collaboration through our entire value chain – from Taco Bell® through our converting partners.”
The S.T.A.R. awards (Supplier – Tracking – Assessment – Recognition) uses company-wide audits built to qualify supplier performance in several categories, including Packaging.
“Ahlstrom’s collaborative innovation allows us to clearly understand the needs and specs of the brand, so we in turn can design a product that not only functions for the consumer but also throughout the converting processes and supply chain,” Dahlke further explained.
Ahlstrom leveraged both its FluoroFree® and trulyNatural® technologies in the development of sustainable packaging solutions for Taco Bell.