SAO PAULO, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- BRF's net operating revenue advanced 15.2% in the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16) compared to the same period last year to reach R$8.1 billion. Gross income came to R$2 billion, down 6.1% from 1Q15. EBITDA amounted to R$1 billion, growing 7.8% from the first quarter of 2015.
BRF sold more than 1 million tons of food products in the first quarter of the year, which is significantly above the company's historical level. Asia and Europe registered the highest growth rates in sales volume, of 44% and 28.9%, respectively.
The Brazilian market was virtually flat in the first quarter of the year, according to data from Nielsen. In the period, BRF adopted a new pricing policy formulated in greater detail and specificity that features adjustments by region, channel and category. The country posted net operating revenue in the period of R$3.5 billion.
In the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), net operating revenue came to R$1.5 billion in the quarter, advancing 17.9% on the prior-year period, led by the growth of 27.1% in sales volume of processed food products.
In Asia, net operating revenue came to R$1 billion in the quarter, up 44% on the year-ago period. During the quarter, BRF was able to obtain authorization for four of its plants to export to Malaysia and three more plants to China.
In Europe, net operating revenue was R$958 million, or 54% higher than in the prior-year quarter. The strong result reflects the consolidation of the distributor Universal Meats, albeit only partially in the quarter, which reinforces the strategy to consolidate our leadership position in the United Kingdom's custom Food Service channel.
In Latin America, net operating revenue amounted to R$438 million, or 11.2% higher than in the year-ago period. This growth is explained by higher average prices in Brazilian real, especially in Argentina, the sales volume growth in new markets, especially Mexico and the Caribbean, and growth and the diversification of the mix in existing markets, such as Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile.
Lastly, this is the first time that BRF reports standalone results for Africa, in line with the segregation of the region announced at the start of the year. Despite the continent's internal challenges, the region posted earnings growth of 6.4% on last year. Net operating revenue came to R$176 million, growing 13% in the comparison period.