Astral Foods has booked a lift in first-quarter profits, boosted by an increase in feed profits.

For the three-month period, profits increased by 16% to ZAR189m (US$25m). The improvement in profitability was contributed to by increased profits from the feed division and lower finance costs.

However, continued strain on consumer spending put downward pressure on poultry selling prices and, together with the impact of the industrial action at the firm’s Standerton abattoir, resulted in poultry profits marginally below the same period last year, the group said.

Revenue decreased by 4% from ZAR4.46bn to ZAR4.28bn on the back of lower agricultural input costs and lower poultry realisations.

Operating profit, however, at ZAR304m was 9% higher than the previous year.

While poultry’s operating profit was down 2% to ZAR134m, the feed division’s profit improved by 20% to ZAR151m.