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Calavo Growers Inc (CVGW) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool

Calavo Growers Inc (NASDAQ:CVGW)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Sep 8, 2021, 5:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings. Welcome to the Calavo Growers’ Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] Please note this conference is being recorded.

I will now turn the conference over to your host, Lisa Mueller, Investor Relations for Calavo. Thank you. You may begin.

Lisa MuellerSenior Vice President

Thank you, operator, and thank you all for joining us today to discuss Calavo Growers’ third quarter 2021 financial results. This afternoon we issued our earnings release and this document is available in the Investor Relations section of our website at ir.calavo.com. I’m here today with Steve Hollister, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Calavo and Farha Aslam, Interim Chief Financial Officer. On today’s call, management will provide prepared remarks and then we will open-up the call for your questions.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that today’s comments will include forward-looking statements under the Federal Securities Laws. Forward-looking statements are identified by words such as will, be, intend, believe, expect, anticipate or other comparable words and phrases. Statements that are not historical facts, such as statements about our expected improvements in operating profit are also forward-looking statements. Our actual financial condition and results of operations may vary materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Discussion of the factors that could cause our results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements are contained in our SEC filings, including our reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q.

With that, I would now like to turn the call over to Steve Hollister. Steve, please go ahead.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining us to discuss Calavo Growers’ third quarter 2021 results. As you saw from today’s press release, after more than 10 years with Calavo, Jim Gibson has retired as CEO. Jim was one of the founders of Renaissance Food Group, which was later acquired by Calavo and has been a key growth driver of our company’s expansion in the Fresh Refrigerated foods category ever since. On behalf of the Board and the company, we want to thank Jim for his years of service to Calavo and wish him well in his future endeavors. The Board has begun a search for Jim’s permanent successor and I am stepping in as Interim CEO. A little about my background, I have served on Calavo’s Board for the last 13 years, and I know first-hand the company and the people I am joining. In my time on the Board, the company has tripled in size and grown to be the avocado industry leader that it is today. Personally, my background in agricultural and commercial finance as well as agricultural operations and management have prepared me to lead Calavo during this interim period. While there is no perfect time for a transition like this, given our strong team here, the Board and I are confident that we can execute a smooth transition. With such a long and rich history, I am honored to be here leading Calavo, a company that founded an industry.

Now turning to the quarter at hand today, I’ll structure my remarks in three sections to provide you with; one, a high-level overview of the quarter; two, highlights on overall trends we are seeing in the industry; and three, an update on our initiatives to improve profitability, including an update on ESG. Following my remarks, Farha will address our financial results, balance sheet and outlook. And then we will open the line for questions.

Now moving onto the results for the quarter. Our core avocado business was relatively flat year-over-year. Lower supply and delays in the expected avocado supply from Mexico and California, along with smaller fruit sizes, negatively impacted sales volume, which was 8% lower than a year ago. As we have noted in the past, we are best positioned to deliver margin when we have a wide-array of avocado sizes to meet the varied demands of our customers. On the positive side, market demand for avocados remained strong, reflected in the 10% increase in our average selling prices.

Our RFG and Foods segments delivered double-digit sales growth as the recovery from the pandemic continues. While sales were higher, RFG’s business was negatively impacted by industrywide inflation in labor and freight costs, coupled with supply issues in some fresh fruits and vegetables. The increase in sales in our Foods segment was partially due to higher international sales. However, profitability was lower due to higher commodity prices. Taken together, our third quarter revenues were generally in line with our expectations, but with inflationary pressures still present, gross margin and profitability fell far short of our initial expectations.

Looking ahead, the same trends impacting our bottom line have persisted into the current quarter. However, for the second half of the fourth quarter, we anticipate a more favorable environment in terms of avocado supply and pricing. Peru and California seasons are finished, and we expect a larger crop coming from Mexico in mid-September, which should have a better size distribution. This new crop will also benefit our Foods business with a higher prevalence of smaller avocado sizes, which will help with costs. Demand at RFG remained strong, but that business continues to be impacted by all the inflationary pressures that we have discussed. While we are working through pricing improvements to help mitigate those costs, we expect there to be a lag effect, and as a result, we should start seeing a positive impact as we exit the fourth quarter.

Now taking a step back, in the third quarter of 2020, we unveiled our one company initiatives and I’m pleased to share that we have made significant progress on the implementation to-date. We have successfully consolidated the organizational structures of our three business segments. Today, we have a centralized leadership team that oversees finance and operations; this allows for better operational efficiency, oversight and resource allocation. We’ve also optimized our segments with a unified go-to-market strategy to drive organic growth and profitability. Our highly complementary fresh foods and RFG business segments no longer operate in silos.

We have centralized our sales function, as Ron Araiza, a Foods industry veteran was recently promoted to Executive Vice President of Sales for both Foods and RFG to lead our sales teams as they pursue business development cohesively. As a result, these enhanced synergies provide us with greater visibility across the business and offer a multitude of cross-selling opportunities.

Additionally, for our international markets, we are utilizing our Jalisco packing house in Mexico to drive incremental sales. We have also enhanced our employee development program, providing training and opportunity for career advancements and are using these efforts to identify and mentor talent for future leadership roles. The action we have taken through our One Company Program, we believe will lead to long-term success of Calavo Growers. While we have made good progress on this front, we are not yet finished.

In the third quarter, we launched Project Uno, a strategic review of our business that requires a holistic look at our operations in the face of the changes we see in the marketplace. This profit improvement program is expected to generate additional operating income of approximately $70 million over the next 24 months. Total costs associated with the program are estimated at about $30 million. Through this extensive review of our operations, we have identified potential opportunities for reducing costs and expanding gross margins. Broadly speaking, some of the key opportunities include enhance commercialization achieved through optimizing our SKUs, our pricing and customer mix; the optimization of facilities and systems achieved through adjustments in our production, labor and automation; and finally, sourcing optimization achieved through better distribution and purchasing.

We have amazing products of the highest quality, and we are closely analyzing the most advantageous product set that best serves our customers. Ultimately, we want to align our customer and skill-set to our most profitable opportunities. Our RFG business has an outstanding distribution platform across the US and we see opportunity to add line extensions, to accommodate product sets from our Foods segment.

And it is probably an understatement to say that the impact of COVID has been disruptive to our business. There are new dynamics at play, the shift in labor force is just one example. And we are working to determine that these shifts are permanent. We’re also moving purposely to match our production with demand and available labor force.

In summary, this profit improvement program is expected to substantially increase our operating profit, while delivering new levels of value and performance to our customers.

Before I turn the call over to Farha, I want to highlight a few of this year’s ESG accomplishments, particularly as they pertain to the environment. We established our first carbon footprint analysis for 2019 as a baseline year. We know that climate change and our ability to mitigate carbon risk is a top priority for investors, and this project sets the stage for us to develop a roadmap to get Calavo a net-zero carbon footprint. Given the drought conditions in the west, we undertook a water usage case study since 10 of our manufacturing facilities are in areas with high baseline water stress. Most of the water we use is for washing products and cleaning our processing equipment, less than 1% is consumed in our products. So we have significant opportunity to reduce usage through water recycling and reuse processes and technologies.

Finally, demonstrating our commitment to the environment, we are ramping up our investments in environmental projects. Over the next four years, we are committing more than $4 million for waste reduction, water conservation, recycling and energy control projects. They make good business sense with an average payback time of two years. I want to thank our entire team for making these and all our sustainability efforts a reality.

With that, I will turn the call over to Farha.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Steve, and good afternoon, everyone. It has been a pleasure to work with Calavo’s Finance team for the last few weeks as Interim CFO. The organization has strong capabilities that are supporting Calavo’s turnaround and the CFO transition.

Now let us review the quarter and provide some color on our outlook for the business. I’ll start with revenue. On a consolidated basis, third quarter revenue was $285 million, which is at the high end of our pre-announcement guidance range and up 5% year-over-year. This was primarily driven by revenue increases in RFG and our Foods segment of 14% and 12%, respectively. The nice rebound in both segments reflects improved consumer demand as the country reopens from the pandemic. We also experienced higher international revenue in our Foods segment, as we expand our efforts outside of the US. Revenue in the Fresh segment was relatively comparable to the prior year period as higher average selling prices were largely offset by lower sales volume, which was negatively impacted by the delay in avocado supply from Mexico and California coupled with suboptimal fruit sizes in that segment, as Steve noted.

Gross profit for the third quarter was $7.9 million, down from $30.8 million in last year’s third quarter and our gross profit margin percentage declined to 2.8% compared to 11.4%. The decline in gross profit and margin percentage occurred in all three of our segments and was due to a number of factors, including inflationary pressures on labor, raw materials and freight as well as lower sales volume and less desirable fruit in the Fresh segment sales mix, both in quality and sizes. In addition, higher avocado costs adversely impacted gross margins in our Foods segment.

SG&A expenses improved to $12.4 million from $13.4 million a year ago, mainly due to lower stock-based compensation and a decrease in salary and benefit expense, as a result of consolidation initiatives and a reclassification of certain items. Consistent with our pre-announcement, adjusted EBITDA was $1 million for the quarter.

Net loss in the third quarter was $13 million or $0.74 per share. Included in this loss were $13.8 million in total provisions for our Mexican tax liability for the 2011 and 2013 tax years, of which $1.3 million was recorded as other expense and $12.5 million was recorded as a discrete item in income tax provision expense. Additionally, we recovered $6 million in the quarter from FreshRealm, reflecting the fulfillment of its separation agreement with the company. After adjusting for these and others standard items, adjusted net loss was $3 million or $0.17 per share.

Now turning to our balance sheet. We ended the quarter with $144 million of cash, liquid investments and available debt capacity. Total debt as of July 31, 2021, including finance leases was $43 million. We continue to have a strong balance sheet and low leverage, enabling us to invest in our current infrastructure to drive future growth and improved profitability.

Now turning to our near-term outlook. The trends in all three businesses are very dynamic. So we are choosing to refrain from providing revenue or adjusted EBITDA guidance until the environment has stabilized. That said, fundamentals in the business are improving in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter. Margins in the fresh business were compressed in August due to supply pressure of a large Peruvian crop and tight supplies from Mexico and California. In September, as the harvest of Mexico’s main crop gets underway, profit margins are improving. The estimates regarding the size of the Mexican crop vary widely, but barring any weather issues, we anticipate having an adequate supplies to meet customer needs.

The Foods and RFG businesses are facing incremental inflationary pressure on freight, labor and material costs versus the fiscal third quarter. Year-over-year inflation ranges from 10% to 30% depending on the product and locations. We are working to mitigate the impact of higher costs with pricing and cost savings from Project Uno. More of the benefits of our pricing and efficiency efforts will likely fall to the bottom line in fiscal 2022 versus the fiscal fourth quarter 2021.

SG&A is expected to be $13 million to $15 million, which is in line with our historical run rate. Interest expense for the final quarter is anticipated to be approximately $300,000. We look for a tax rate to return to approximately 25% in the fourth quarter.

With that, I’ll turn the call over to the operator for questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

At this time, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Ben Bienvenu with Stephens. Please proceed with your question.

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

Hey, thanks. Good afternoon, everybody.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Good afternoon.

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

So I want to ask as it relates to sort of the critical path from here with your strategic review of Project Uno, what steps you’ve identified and are putting in place today to improve profitability and then when you think about your engagement with third-party consultant when do you expect to have all of the insights from that review of the business at your disposals to move forward and implement change with the business?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Steve, would you like to start?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Sure, I’d be happy to. Some of the things that we’ve already identified helped us with the profitability and strategic positioning of Calavo moving forward. As our footprint, our physical footprints, all of our existing facilities not only for Calavo, but also with RFG within the Project Uno what we’re trying to figure out how to consolidate as much as possible, how to, a good example for that would be, taking a look at RFG, where should we be producing certain commodity mixes where it makes more sense not only from a production standpoint, but also logistically to take advantage of maybe some freight, distribution inefficiencies that we’ve had to dealt with in the past that gets to be more of a precious commodity, labor situations where do we have a beneficial labor pool as opposed to maybe some that are more stressed. Those are some of them major things that we’re looking at right now too and it’s something that we should do on an ongoing basis anyway.

As far as maybe some of the other inputs, so we’re taking a look at it. As I mentioned, transportation, how to get more efficient in doing our business not only to our customers, but also intercompany. And so those are some of the things that we’re already working on right now.

And what was the second half of the question?

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

When do you expect to have the full insights from your third-party consultants at your disposal to move forward with their suggestions for what you might do or is that just a fluid ongoing process that comes in and waits?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

[Speech Overlap] Wanted to highlighted that Ben, this is a dynamic process that we’re engaging in, and we’re not waiting for sort of a big tomb and then going to work. It’s rather we are very actively engaging the entire organization in Project Uno have identified very specific actions that we plan to take, have assigned project owners to lead the effort, and we as an organization, are going after the cost savings starting yesterday. We’re already on it.

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

Okay, great. Drilling down into the business segments, if I look at the results in your, call it, Foods segment, I know we’ve seen periods in the past where margins have been pressured on fruit costs and I suspect it has to do with sizing, but if I look at your cost of goods sold and the segment up materially 44% year-over-year, but if I just look at like standard size of avocado is 48, their market prices are roughly flat year-over-year. So does it have to do with the availability of various sizes of the fruits that you need or pulps that you would use in that product. Maybe help me understand the raw material components at play there driving that COGS increase year-over-year?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Steve, would you like me to take that?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Sure, I will. Most of what we do with our of the Foods segment is we use product that would be fairly low on the consumer demand, whether it’s number three avocados or some that have a significant amount of scarring, but generally stuff that we don’t pack as a number one or number two. And what we found out in Mexico is it that, from a production standpoint, there is a disproportionate number of fruit available for us to use in the Food segment as opposed to that which is going fresh market. So that has led to some problems getting the right-sizing and then also the costs have been a little higher typically, I mean it’s just — it’s more a factor of what we’re paying for the fruits and our labor cost don’t tend to change that much in Mexico.

Farha, do you want to add anything else to that?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. There is strong Mexican demand in Mexico for a smaller crop, and that pushed up our food costs. We’ll continue to see that elevated expense in our P&L in the fourth quarter, but we are starting to see some of that inflation begin to mitigate. So as we progress into fiscal 2022, we do expect margins to incrementally improve from current level.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

[Speech Overlap] That has to do with the new crop coming in Mexico, we’re basically weeks away from that and that always leaves us to maybe a more beneficial pricing scenario as well.

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

Okay. Very good. Thanks so much for the color and best of luck.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Rob Dickerson with Jefferies. Please proceed with your question.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Great. Thank you so much. Couple of quick questions. I guess first question is, I mean it sounds like these pressures continue through and inching forward to some extent until you get to the latter part of the quarter, given hopefully some changing dynamics in that kind of forthcoming Mexican crop. So obviously, there are going to be some movement, there’ll be some movement on the volume side and hopefully a better product and finish it at better pricing, but just in terms of kind of the other costs, maybe this is more for you, Farah, as you kind of call out freight and labor, it seems like that could continue and we see a lot of companies are saying prevailing that could continue for you through next year, but the hope is that kind of that price relative to crop sizing hopefully get better next year. So therefore what you’re kind of implying and saying somewhat implicitly is that next year you’ll be back, right, but maybe not good as you would historically because there’s just a higher cost inflationary environment in other parts of the business. Is that like [Indecipherable]?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

I think fundamentally, you’ve got it right, Rob. We are facing higher freight, labor and material costs and we are working to pass it through in terms of higher pricing, but we’re also taking a look at our own business and working to optimize our SKU mix, rationalize our customer base and product base to improve the margins and ensure that we are producing products at the right place to really minimize the labor and the freight needs for our production.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Okay.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

As we implement those pricing and cost improvement efforts, we expect our margins to recover.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Got it. Okay, perfect. And then on a segment level, coming back in terms of prior question asked, but then to focus on RFG versus Foods, RFG was posted a bit of a loss in the quarter, but it would seem that maybe some of the demand would kind of gradually be coming back, just given your channel exposure. So I just want to clarify that the loss posted in the quarter somewhat a function of just supply frankly not meeting that demand later on top of other additional cost pressures and I’m asking only because obviously that one side of the business is kind of more volume recovery, there is a loss that is kind of less about the recovery, it’s really just more about the near-term dynamic between cost and pricing and supply?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Rob, you’re right. We are seeing really strong demand in our RFG business and really the constraint in that business today is labor and the availability of getting folks into our plants. Now as we optimize our product mix to reduce the labor component in our product mix, we should see our margins recover.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Got it. Okay. Fair enough. Just last question, probably more for Steve. I’m sure people will ask, I thought of myself, is just over the past year or so, right, you have the CFO kind of resign over the summer, but that was off of the prior CFO having lapped to, I still know well, it was great. And then, I feel like with Jim seem to be doing a decent job. I was there for quite some time at Calavo overall health implement with the Board’s assistance tend to go-forward strategy. But now I just have to ask Jim is leaving, right, kind of really kind of when you would think things would start to pick up a bit. So the direct question is when you sit down with the entire Board at this point, what is that conversation, is there an issue with employee retention or is there something that’s not occurring that maybe they had expected to occur and then how do you prevent kind of that unexpected departure you’d have to recur going forward and maybe that’s around investing plans and overall incentive compensation? So just kind of broader question of what do we do, what do we do that we now don’t have a permanent CEO and a CFO started out directly to [Indecipherable]. Thank you.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Well, first of all, from a CFO standpoint, we’re right on the cusp of hiring a new CFO. We’ve been — from the Board committee standpoint, we have identified two applicants, so we’re getting close to doing that. The CEO search is underway, hence the part which you are — when you were talking, my reception is not on the [Technical Issues] I may have missed a little bit of what you said there, but I think it was more about how are we getting back on track and is that a fair assumption.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Yeah. [Technical Issues] too close to hiring a CFO, that’s great. It’s just kind of the broader question is, if as you go through the search process and look for a new CEO, so we can try to lend the turnover, is there a way certainly to try to retain that talent for longer than a 12-months period of time?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

I’m sorry. Farha, can you answer that and [Technical Issues].

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Sure. I’m happy to step in. So Rob, we anticipate hiring a new CEO and new CFO that will serve for — and really shepherd this turnaround at Calavo and then take the organization to our goal in Project Uno from being a $1 billion company to be a $2 billion company within five years and we’re very confident that we have a robust process and we’ll find the right leadership for this organization. And in the meantime, we have a very, very deep capable organization that is operating well during this transition.

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Okay. Perfect. That answers, Farha. Thank you so much. I’ll pass it on.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of the Mitch Pinheiro with Sturdivant and Company. Please proceed with your question.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Yeah, hi. Good afternoon. Hey, I have several questions. So if you go back, historically, obviously Calavo is an agricultural-based company. And if you go back pre-RFG and even through the current Fresh business and even Calavo Foods has been — while volatility you’ve been able to control it pretty well, your profitability has been stable and that’s — given the underlying growth of the whole category and your leadership in your long years of experience I’d expect you to deal with the — get the avocado business back up and running in a normal fashion. It’ the RFG business that I’m beginning to question. You’ve done really well with it growing from whatever it was when you bought at $100 million in sales and now it’s approaching what was over — approaching $500 million. So that’s good. But I wonder whether and how that business really steps over the other side and not to say that I’m suggesting we punk that business right now, but it might be — is it a business that you can control the volatility to not give guidance and a lot of it seems centered on RFG, but did not give guidance, it’s like this business it seems like you don’t have visibility and I remember asking in the prior conference call about RFG with certain that all the open salad bars that you had were going to be all pre-packaged from here on out because of COVID, but I’m actually finding most of the salad bars, where I was to be open-air bar self-serve, and it’s actually. So I’m wondering whether we even know as a leadership there, do we know what’s happening in RFG. And so can you talk a little bit about your confidence there and whether I misspoke on any of my [Phonetic]?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Let me just give a few comments about RFG and I was on the Board, when we were looking at our RFG and then we ultimately consummated the purchase of it and then the earn-out through all of that and I have a bit of a background and progress as well. It’s a segment that has always been growing since I’ve been on the Board in the supermarkets. We viewed it as a perfect complement to what we do with the Fresh and the Foods segment. And it’s unfortunately or fortunately, everyone look at it, it’s a dynamic business, it is constantly changing as the consumer taste change and yet defined in more areas maybe slack and some others. And so we have to deal with that along the way. I mean we haven’t done the best in the past, it’s making some of those changes, but we are certainly focused on right now, in fact in Project Uno, that is one of the major things that we are working on and we’ve identified a number of areas there.

We’re probably going to reduce SKUs that maybe don’t fit in with our product set as well as they used to, and probably being produced in areas that aren’t most efficient for us. And so, not only just looking at all of our SKUs and maybe reducing some of those, but also where are we going to produce them in a better area, that’s just maybe going to require less freight to get the product in there and typically in that industry, it’s a nickels and dimes that makes so much of the dollars. And so we’re focusing on the things that we can control, primarily, which is the cost inputs and the locations, dealing with the staffing shortages that have been moving since the COVID era and also taking a look at the products that we sell and trying to align the pricing that we’re getting for our products more in line with our costs.

So all of those things together are giving us I think a much better footprint in move forward. We’re very bullish on that product and business and that’s why we’re trying to consolidated it with our Foods segment and the One Calavo footprint and move forward with it under that I think we’re going to see not only benefits from the direct costs we have to it and the sales price, also the indirect costs from SG&A to maybe rising resources within greater Calavo framework to complement what RFG does.

Farha?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Steve. So RFG has been impacted by COVID, perhaps as much as any business in the food industry. And initially, there was some uncertainty regarding how permanent the inflation we were seeing was and that’s why pricing has lagged. Now when we see that labor is probably going to be inflationary on a more sustained basis that we’re probably going to see higher freight costs both for incoming food and fruit products as well as our delivery costs that we need to pass those on. And our customers are starting to recognize, yes, those costs are more permanent and that we do have the need to take pricing and therefore, we are getting it in the market. So we’re optimistic about those margins recovering. And as Steve highlighted, our commitment to the business is really anchored in what we view as probably the most on-trend dynamic part of the food industry, consumers want to eat fresh, they want to eat healthy and they want that convenience that RFG offers and that is why we are going to continue to invest to grow this business.

Does that help?

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Yes, it does. Thank you. Staying on RFG for a second, Farha could you highlight like — so RFG sales were up about $14 million in the quarter, yet we’re down about $14 million in gross profit. What were the — can you talk either percentage-wise or dollar-wise what some of the buckets of those costs were. I mean, I know we’ve gone over labor and freight and some material cost, but can you just somehow walk us down and to the — how we went from $8 million to minus $6 million, $14 million [Indecipherable]?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

For me to piece out those costs individually would be difficult, but we can follow up offline to give you some color. But know that the entire supply chain is facing that inflation, but that our customers are recognizing that we are experiencing very real cost increases in our business. And so, therefore, as we go, it’s taken some time, but we are getting pricing. And at the same time, our entire organization is very engaged in reducing those costs and they are doing it pretty successfully and are working to deliver the bottom line as quickly as possible.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Okay. Two more questions. As it relates to Project Uno, did I hear you correctly, were you saying there is — you’re looking for $70 million of operating income cost savings over the next 24 months with about $30 million in cost to achieve that. Is that correct?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

That’s correct.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

And so $70 million is a big number. It was like that’s like a whole year’s worth of operating income that you think you can take out and deliver over two years and that’s OK and I’d love to hear, but as it relates to — you’re going to have a new CEO, do we — I know there’s a lot of low hanging fruit, no pun intended, but there’s a lot of stuff that you can get on, as you said, Farha you’re working on yesterday. And so are we sure we got $70 million of savings? Is that just ballpark number? Is that conservative? We’re just starting to look at all the various places we can save money and are we sure that’s the right number?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Mitch, we highlighted that this is not just a cost savings, it’s a profit improvement. So it’s a really what we think of a profit recovery plan for Calavo from current levels. So $70 million would get back closer to our historical norm and that is what gives us confidence because this business has delivered that level of profitability in the past in terms of adjusted EBITDA and we have very specific numbers across multiple project streams and that number is very doable in our expectations.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Okay. And then final question, as it relates to the dividend. So your cash balance has declined and when you look at the balance sheet, you can see some working capital use, but with spending $30 million on capital spending with related to Project Uno with the decline in EBITDA, just from the pressures that you’ve mentioned, how should we look at the dividend, I mean, you’ve increased it, I just wonder whether is it safe, is there — is this — are we in a period where we’re probably not going to see dividend increases at all, give us your thoughts on that?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Well, I mean, our plan at this point in time, we’re going to be addressing the dividend very shortly. But our plan at this point in time is not to change it. We don’t — we think that problems that we’ve got at this point in time are temporary and as we mentioned, we think we can get back to historical levels here within the next couple of years. So we need to take any type of action to the contrary, I guess, we’ve been doing. We’re comfortable on that amount and we can make it back.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Okay. So I mean, all right. So just looking at my own the cash flow projections. It looks like you may have to borrow to pay the dividend. At least temporarily, is that fair or you think you’re going to be able to do it with free cash flow?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Farha, you’ve been closer to that than I am.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Sure, thanks. So it will all depend on the timing of our recovery, Mitch, and the pace, but our view is that we have a strong balance sheet to fund our recovery efforts.

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Okay. I appreciate the answers. Thank you very much.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our final question comes from the line of Ben Klieve with Lake Street Capital Markets. Please proceed with your question.

Ben KlieveLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

All right. Thanks for taking my question. I kind of have some similar sentiment to Mitch around the RFG segment and had a question about that that segment specifically. Really I’m curious about the performance that you’ve seen kind of from across your facilities, and if the degree to which you’re seeing kind of a meaningful delta in profitability from one location to another, most notably based upon how new the facilities are, the degree of automation that are included within those facilities and labor costs from one location to another. Can you talk about kind of if there are pieces within RFG that are performing well and kind of lessons you’re taking from any of the locations that may be doing so?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Steve, would you like me to?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We’ve constantly take a look at the facilities we have at RFG and have a number of different metrics that we measure them against, and it’s obvious that some do perform better than others, and there is a number of reasons for that too, the cost of labor in certain parts of the country, availability, weather can enter into it too in places like down in Florida or Houston, there’s have been hit in the past, but those are not specifically due to those external factors, I would call them. In our case a lot of it is just moving the product around, getting raw product into the southern plants is much easier for us because it’s more available unless for you to get it into places like Riverside or Houston. And so as I mentioned earlier, we’re trying to get our product mix more synchronized with the best places to produce it. And so those areas that are not particularly beneficial to us to produce a certain product mix, we either will relocate that to another plant or we will discontinue it.

And so that type of thing is helping us, in fact, when you take a look at our facilities and going through the Project Uno mix, those type of decisions are some of the ones that present themselves more readily than others because as you may have tried to make it something work in the past and if we don’t have the customer mix or the customer base to sustain those plans in their current footprint, then we take a look at other ways to try and accomplish the same thing at lower cost.

Farha?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Steve. Ben, the key is freight in that equation. So what we are doing is working to minimize inter plant freight costs to really optimize production to be close to the customer, so that we can reduce our expenses for those products.

Ben KlieveLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Okay, fair enough. Best of luck navigating all these issues. That’s all from me. I’ll get back in queue.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Ben.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Eric Larson with Seaport Research. Please proceed with your question.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Thank you, everyone. Sorry, I queued in a little bit late. So I guess my first question is back to Project Uno. So sort of — Jim sort of announced that program early on in his CEO tenure. So the question I have is, what stage of completion are you in the program? Are you at 30% way through or 50%, did COVID delay a bit of it? And I guess, that’s the first question.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Farha, why don’t you take and answer?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So, Eric Project Uno, we anticipate completing it in the next 24 months and achieving $70 million in profit improvement from current levels.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Yeah. I think Mitch kind of got to that point, but so what is the heavy lifting that’s left? Do you have to do IT conversions? I mean, what is in front of view to complete that project within 24 months? What are the big components of that integration?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So it’s going to be implementing pricing, taking a look at our manufacturing footprint, really optimizing our SKU and customer mix, increasing automation in our plant and really focusing on reducing labor and distribution costs in our product, cost of goods sold and sourcing more efficiently. Those are some kind of examples of key areas that we are working on.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Okay. So you’ve got some heavy lifting to do. So when you look at each division, RFG is probably the more labor-intensive. So how labor-intensive is RFG? Employees for $1 million of revenue, is there a way that you can help quantify us to help quantify that for us so that we maybe you can understand the magnitude of the labor issue?

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Labor is a significant cost. In RFG, I can’t unpack it in such detail for you on a conference call for competitive reasons, but one of the factors we can address is working to optimize our mix to reduce the labor component and that is what we are doing as part of Project Uno.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Okay. So my final question is —

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

To add a little bit to that. The automation portion in RFG is [Technical Issues]

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some technical difficulties. Please stand-by while we reconnect our speaker, Steve Hollister. Ladies and gentlemen, we have reconnected Steve Hollister. Please proceed.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

I’m sorry for that.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Well, that’s OK. Steve, it’s Eric again. I guess I just have one final question. I guess I’m a little confused about the avocado size in supply demand, you’re saying that the number one, number twos are in short supply, excess supply of the smaller fruit three and four. You’re saying that there is strong demand in Mexico with a short crop. So it seems to me, they would be consuming the three’s in the four’s, can you can you just summarize the issues you’re having with sizing again on your avocados and the pricing and the cost of those?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Without getting into actually direct costs and things like that because again that’s information that I’m sure competitors would like to know what we’re doing. But in Mexico, number threes are used primarily in Mexico, that is a very popular size for the Mexican population and unfortunately for us, that’s also the size that we use most of all on processing for our Foods. So if you get that the sizing off in a [Indecipherable] you might end up a more larger sizes and fewer smaller sizes and so there is much more competition for that so the costing goes up. And that’s a direct influence what we do in Foods. And so you never know when you’re going out looking at you can get a pretty good estimate and looking at an order of the sizes and be which you never really know until you bring it in process and that’s way things are done in Mexico, you’re typically bringing the crop and by the acre, not doing any [Indecipherable]. And so that’s how we can sometimes find ourselves on the wrong side of that curve, not only from the sizing standpoint, but also from a pricing standpoint. And it doesn’t flows throughout the year, historically that has been the case or you get periods of real high fruits in some and then when it’s lower, you try and really make up some volume on that, but we just — this last year has been more difficult for us the most.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Okay. So there is — I may have misheard this, Stev, there is not an oversupply of three and fours even though that’s where the majority of the crop has been coming in?

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Well, typically any oversupply that you get of a smaller sizes is just absorbed in Mexico and so the crop has been fairly normal in Mexico. I don’t think it’s been to — there’s been acting like very such a large producer. But for us, it’s been a lack of the sizes that we need to make the Foods. And so we’ve had to use alternate sources for coming up with that product, either using some different sizes that have a higher cost to them or maybe going to different factors and things.

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

Okay. Thank you, all. I’ll follow up with you folks.

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

I appreciate it.

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. I will now turn the call over to Farha Aslam for closing remarks.

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Alex, and thanks to all of you who — and for your interest in Calavo Foods. We look forward to sharing with you updates on Project Uno next quarter. Until then, be safe and well. Thanks very much.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 60 minutes

Call participants:

Lisa MuellerSenior Vice President

Steven HollisterInterim Chief Executive Officer

Farha AslamInterim Chief Financial Officer

Ben BienvenuStephens Inc. — Analyst

Robert DickersonJefferies LLC — Analyst

Mitchell PinheiroSturdivant and Company — Analyst

Ben KlieveLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Eric LarsonSeaport Global Securities LLC — Analyst

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