Swedish vegetable fat manufacturer AarhusKarlshamn (AAK) has booked a rise in first quarter net sales and operating profit on the back of higher pricing and cost cuts.

The company said that net sales in the period climbed to SEK3.84bn (US$636m), up from SEK3.51bn the previous year.

Operating profit climbed 15% to SEK204m in the quarter.

Gains were driven by the AAK Acceleration strategy, the company said. Moving forward AAK revealed that it will focus on further rationalisation initiatives, targeting annual savings of SEK30m.

AAK sounded a note of caution on its sales volumes, which dropped by 4% overall. However, the group said that speciality volumes continued to increase, while chocolate and confectionery fats also showed volume growth.

"We are now going into the second quarter and we remain prudently optimistic for the quarter and for the execution of AAK Acceleration," commented CEO Arne Frank.