Surging commodity prices are not bad news for all food industry players, as UK-listed palm oil producer MP Evans proved this week with soaring annual profits.

The company posted a record gross profit for the year of $103.6m, treble the previous year’s result, while operating profit rose 266% from $31.3m in 2020 to $114.6m in 2021.

The surge in profitability was driven by a further increase in crops and production and strong palm oil prices in the year. Production rose as its Indonesian palm estates matured, with total crop processed up 13% to 1.4 million tonnes, while average mill-gate prices rose 37% to $810/tonne.

Prices for palm kernels also increased in 2021, reflecting stronger demand for palm kernel oil and an ongoing shortage of coconut oil. Average prices hit $533 per tonne in the year, 69% higher than the $316 per tonne of 2020.

The group also reported a seasonal 10% in downturn in crop in early 2022, though it expects a recovery. It continues to benefit from surging palm oil prices, with average mill-gate prices up to $1,050 per tonne since year end partly attributable to “tragic events in Ukraine”.

Broker Peel Hunt said the results represented “an exceptional year”, with upgraded forecasts and further upside making the shares “highly attractive”. FinnCap said the results showed the group should “be considered a ‘world class’ operation based on operational KPIs and sustainability… and should be valued as such”.

The surging profits also saw the board hike its annual dividend by 59%, which contributed to a 2.1% share price rise on Wednesday to close at 982p – now up 50% year on year.

Elsewhere, THG has responded to investor pressure over governance by announcing City veteran and former ITV and Compass Group CEO Charles Allen, Lord Allen of Kensington, as its new independent non-exec chair. Allen’s appointment follows an international search initiated in October 2021, when THG committed to splitting the dual roles of executive chair and CEO held by founder Matthew Moulding, who will remain CEO.

Liberum backed the appointment, commenting: “Following a raft of other improvements to the group’s corporate governance structures last year, this appointment addresses nearly all the concerns previously raised. What we find anomalous with the valuation, is that the fundamentals of the group are better than at the time of the IPO.”

Volatile THG edged up 0.2% to 89.4p on the announcement, but the shares are down 7% over the past five days and have lost 90% of their value since January 2021.