The basic policy of the NISSIN FOODS Group is to distribute profits continuously and stably to its shareholders and investors, taking into account its consolidated financial results and future funding needs. The Group made a concerted effort to achieve the numerical target for the consolidated dividend payout ratio set at 40% for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015. In fiscal 2016, we paid annual dividends of 80 yen per share, including interim dividends of 40 yen per share and year-end dividends of 40 yen per share. For the next fiscal year, we plan to pay annual dividends of 80 yen per share. As a result, the payout ratio in the next fiscal year is expected to be 39.3%. We also have a shareholder special benefit plan to enable our shareholders to gain a better understanding of our products.
We also hold social gathering meetings of shareholders twice a year as an opportunity to hear directly from them and to gather their opinions regarding management and our products. The directors and executive officers of NISSIN FOODS HOLDINGS CO., LTD. as well as the executives of its subsidiaries attend the meetings to deepen their exchanges with the shareholders, and in turn, the shareholders have the chance to taste some of our products. In addition, to respond promptly to inquiries from shareholders, we have provided dedicated free calling and email since 2012.
We hold company information sessions for individual investors to provide them with a good understanding of the NISSIN FOODS Group by actively disclosing information to investors. In fiscal 2016, we held the sessions at three venues, and approximately 400 individual investors participated.