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COVID-19 sent its dietary supplement sales soaring but a year on Bayer has been able to solidify those initial gains by its Nutritionals franchise.

While Nutritionals turnover only edged up by 0.6% - 4.7% adjusted for currency and portfolio effects – to €353m ($426m) in the first quarter, Bayer achieved this gain after posting a 32% jump in turnover in the prior-year period. (Bayers Supplement Sales Leap By A Third On COVID Boost)

A continued demand for preventive health solutions had helped Bayer to cement and build on the gains of 2020, the German company explained. The Nutritionals business had performed particularly well in Europe, Bayer noted, where consumers were increasingly interested in self-care and strengthening their immune system, as well as in Asia, where Redoxon effervescent vitamins continued to be popular.

These gains for Nutritionals were, however, not enough to offset the collapse in demand for cough and cold products as social distancing stopped winter illnesses from spreading. With turnover at Bayer’s Allergy & Cold franchise dropping by a third, total Consumer Health sales declined 10.4% to €1.25bn in the first quarter. Adjusted for currency and portfolio effects, sales fell at the slower rate of 4.4%.

 

Drilling down into the Allergy & Cold performance, Bayer said the 34.9% plunge in sales to €235m was due to an “exceptionally” strong comparison with the prior-year quarter when consumers had rushed to stock up on cold and flu products. This had been compounded by a continuing high level of protective and hygiene measures, as well as ongoing lockdowns in certain markets.

Looking at Consumer Health’s Q1 showing on a geographical basis, Bayer’s two smallest regions in terms of sales were its best performers.

Sales in Asia/Pacific rose by 8.9% – 11.1% as adjusted – to €209m, which Bayer attributed to gains for the Elevit pregnancy vitamin in China and Redoxon in Southeast Asia, as well as “encouraging growth” for its dermatology brands.

In Latin America, sales advanced by 5.3% – 25.5% as adjusted– to €140m, thanks to high demand for products in the Pain & Cardio category, especially Aspirin, plus the successful launch in Brazil of Bepanthen Derma.

 

Turning to Consumer Health’s largest market, North America, Bayer posted sales down 19.4% – 14.6% as adjusted – to €470m as it could not compete with an “outstandingly good” prior-year period. Sales of cough and cold products were particularly affected, the firm noted, given ongoing protective and hygiene measures in the market.

In Europe/Middle East/Africa, turnover fell back by 11.6% – 6.5% as adjusted – to €433m, which again reflected a tough comparison with a very strong prior-year period, Bayer said. On a more positive note, the firm said that alongside gains for Nutritionals, the Dermatology franchise had also shown positive development, partly on account of high demand for Bepanthen.

Turning to earnings, EBITDA before special items declined to €292m with Consumer Health’s total sales hit by a large negative currency effect.

Consumer Health’s EBITDA margin actually increased by 180 basis points to 23.3%, which Bayer said had been driven by contributions from divestments of non-core brands and cautious marketing spending in a volatile market environment.

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