Assets, financing and cash flow

Total assets as at 31 December 2023 increased by 3.0% or CHF 79.1 million compared with 31 December 2022 to CHF 2,714.5 million (previous year: CHF 2,635.4 million). The increase was primarily due to a significant increase in cash and cash equivalents, while the rest of the current assets and the non-current assets fell compared to the previous year.

Operating net working capital (consisting of inventories and trade receivables and payables) amounted to CHF 653.1 million, a fall of CHF 33.8 million or 4.9% compared with the high level in the previous year (CHF 686.9 million). In relation to sales, it fell from a high 16.2% in 2022 to 15.4% in 2023.

Non-current assets fell slightly by CHF 13.9 million or 1.1% from CHF 1,278.0 million to CHF 1,264.1 million. Property, plant and equipment accounts for the large majority of non-current assets at CHF 1,105.4 million (previous year: CHF 1,100.2 million). As a result of significantly negative foreign currency effects, it increased by only CHF 5.2 million, even though investment exceeded depreciation.

Liabilities amounted to CHF 1,299.6 million as at 31 December 2023 compared with CHF 1,351.5 million at the end of 2022. Lower trade payables were the main reason for the decline by CHF 51.9 million. Refinancing the CHF 200 million bond that matured in July 2023 led to a reclassification from current to non-current liabilities. Against this, short-term bank overdrafts rose, while longer-term bank overdrafts declined. The equity ratio rose from 48.7% at 31 December 2022 to 52.1%. A significant increase in cash and cash equivalents compared to the previous year, combined with slightly lower financial liabilities, resulted in net debt of CHF 298.3 million as at 31 December 2023, compared to CHF 473.2 million in the previous year. Net debt to EBITDA fell from 1.25 as at 31 December 2022 to 0.79 at the end of the year under review.

Cash inflow from operating activities amounted to CHF 370.1 million in 2023, an increase of CHF 161.8 million from CHF 208.3 million in 2022. While the increase of CHF 33.1 million in cash flow before changes in net working capital, interest and taxes largely reflects the operating improvement at EBITDA level, the increase in cash flow from operating activities resulted predominantly from the positive developments in net working capital. The fall in net working capital had a positive impact of CHF 21.9 million on cash flow from operating activities in the year under review. In 2022, net working capital burdened the cash flow from operating activities by CHF 111.2 million, which represents a difference of CHF 133.1 million. The main driver of this positive change was the normalisation in net operating working capital. This increased sharply in the previous year, mainly due to the build-up of a safety stock of inventories to guarantee the ability to deliver. Meanwhile, interest and taxes paid detracted from cash flow from operating activities by CHF 4.5 million more than in the previous year.

The cash outflow from investing activities amounted to CHF 135.8 million in 2023, compared to CHF 228.2 million in the previous year. This decline was due firstly to lower investments in plant, property and equipment, where there was an outflow of CHF 145.4 million in the year under review, compared with CHF 198.3 million in 2022. Acquisition activities led to a net cash inflow of CHF 10.8 million in 2023. This included an inflow from the disposal of the minority interest in Ambrosi S.p.A. for CHF 27.1 million. In the previous year, acquisition activities led to an outflow of CHF 23.5 million.

Not including cash flow from acquisition activities, the Group generated free cash flow of CHF 223.5 million in the year under review. The significant increase compared with the low 2022 figure of CHF 3.7 million was due to the greatly increased cash flow from operating activities and the simultaneously lower investments in property, plant and equipment.

There was a cash outflow from financing activities of CHF 81.1 million in 2023, compared with a cash outflow of CHF 23.1 million in the prior year. The difference relates largely to the cash inflows in the previous year from the refinancing of euro promissory notes and the capital increase at companies with minority interests. But the increased dividend paid to Emmi AG shareholders and minority shareholders also contributed to the increased cash outflow from financing activities.

As a consequence of the cash flows described above, cash and cash equivalents rose by CHF 146.9 million in financial year 2023 from CHF 202.2 million in the previous year to CHF 349.1 million as at 31 December 2023.

Outlook for 2024

Economic conditions will remain very challenging in 2024. Inflation is still high and easing only slowly in many of the markets and regions relevant for Emmi. Although inflation rates are likely to continue to decline in the coming months, in many countries they are likely to remain well above historic ranges and the levels targeted by the central banks.

Consumer confidence is stuck at low levels in many markets, which can be explained by, inter alia, the fall in real wages in many countries in recent years. A number of relevant markets for Emmi are expecting only modest economic growth or even a recession in 2024. This market environment is also expected to hold back Emmi’s sales growth in the short term.

In terms of operating expenses, pressure on personnel costs will remain high due to inflation-related wage increases. This is exacerbated by the continuing acute shortage of skilled workers and labour in various countries. Volatility in procurement and in global supply chains is also likely to continue, not least due to ongoing and new geopolitical uncertainties. Emmi also expects a further increase in energy costs in the coming year, as it hedges its energy requirements in a series of annual tranches.

Overall, Emmi therefore expects input costs to continue to rise in 2024. The Swiss franc is also likely to continue to strengthen compared to the previous year, which not only depresses Group sales expressed in Swiss francs, but also hurts export competitiveness from Switzerland.

At Emmi, we will therefore continue to exercise our usual discipline and prudence, and counter the pressure on margins with further efficiency and cost-saving initiatives, carefully targeted price increases and a continual portfolio transformation in line with our strategic priorities.


Conditions in the business division Switzerland remain challenging for Emmi. Import pressure will persist, while an increase in shopping tourism in foreign countries close to the border can also be expected due to the further strengthening in the Swiss franc. In addition, new production capacities for milk processing have been built in Switzerland in recent years, which need to be fully utilised and create further price pressure. Emmi will counter these negative developments with its strong brand concepts, trend-led innovations, a strong focus on customers and consumers, and robust production output.

The business division Americas should continue to see rising demand in the US and the growth markets of Brazil, Mexico and Chile in the coming year. How soon the milk supply in Tunisia will normalise is difficult to say due to the challenging macroeconomic conditions in the country. The high volatility in the growth markets in the business division Americas is likely to pose continuing growth risks. Overall, Emmi therefore expects organic sales growth in the business division Americas to be a little below the medium-term targets in the short term.

In the business division Europe, innovative Italian speciality desserts and the product range of Emmi Caffè Latte are key success factors, which will continue to generate organic growth in the coming year. The powder business in the Netherlands, where Emmi was unable to exploit the full sales potential in 2023 due to a challenging market environment in China and high inventories at distributors, is also expected to have a positive impact on sales. On the other hand, the further strengthening of the Swiss franc hampers the competitiveness of the Swiss export business, particularly in the cheese segment. Emmi therefore expects organic sales growth in the business division Europe to fall short of the medium-term targets in the near term.

Sales and profit growth

Emmi expects organic sales growth of 1% to 2% at Group level in 2024, which is below the medium-term forecast of 2% to 3%, due to uncertainties in volume developments. In Switzerland Emmi is projecting organic sales growth in line with the medium-term forecast of 0% to 1%, in spite of the reduction in milk prices effective from 1 January 2024, which will slow sales growth. Emmi also expects restrained sales growth in the international business. Growth of 2% to 4% is expected for the business division Americas, with growth of 0% to 1% for the business division Europe. In the longer term, Emmi is retaining its medium-term targets for organic sales growth (Group 2% to 3%, Switzerland 0% to 1%, Americas 4% to 6%, Europe 1% to 3%).

In spite of the numerous uncertainties described and continuing high cost pressures, Emmi is forecasting a rising operating result at EBIT level of between CHF 295 million and CHF 315 million and a rising net profit margin of between 5.0% and 5.5% for financial year 2024, thanks to ongoing operating improvements and the continual transformation of the Group’s portfolio. Emmi is also confirming its medium-term targets for net profit margin (5.5% to 6.0%), ROIC (improving trend) and distribution rate (35% to 45%).