Natra, the Spain-based chocolate maker, has claimed growing demand for private-label products has led to soaring nine-month profits.

The company said yesterday (11 November) that net profit climbed 46.7% to EUR5.1m (US$6.4m) during the first nine months of the year. EBITDA rose 11.7% to EUR30.8m.

Natra's cocoa and chocolate sales jumped 50% to EUR218.8m due in part to the incorporation of the company's spreads division, which includes Belgian company All Crump. Sales rose 19% on an organic basis.

EBITDA from the division rise 44.8% to EUR18.2m. Natra said it was "confident" its cocoa and chocolate business would beat its full-year sales forecast of EUR305m and EBITDA guidance of EUR28m.

Natra said its business of supplying retailer-brand products, success in passing through rising raw material costs, plus the "defensive" nature of the chocolate sector, which traditionally sees sales rise in a downturn, had all boosted its cocoa and chocolate division.

On a group-wide basis, Natra said consolidated sales were up 25.1% to EUR336.1m.

Natraceutical Group, the functional ingredients firm in which Natra owns a 50.3% stake, saw sales rise 3.3% to EUR124.8m. Exchange rates has an impact on the result, with sales on an organic basis to 11%.

Net profit from Natraceutical inched up from EUR4.4m in the first nine months of 2007 to EUR4.5m in the corresponding period this year. Costs linked to the firm's "product portfolio optimisation plan" weighed on the result.