UK produce distributor and fresh prepared foods maker Geest has said that trading in the current year is line with the company’s expectations.

Speaking at Geest’s annual general meeting, chairman Sir John Banham said: "Trading in the current year is in line with our expectations, reflecting sound growth across all our major business streams. In the UK, our customer-focused organisation is showing its worth and we have gained business with retailers in desserts, ready meals and salads. Our new acquisition, Crudi, is operating profitably under our ownership and we have achieved new business with McDonald’s both in the UK and France. Collectively, these sales gains will accelerate our momentum into the second half as they come on stream."

Banham said the company continued to make progress at its pasta and bread operations at Barton, where the bakery business is now profitable and the pasta business is reducing its losses.

He added that Geest’s board was confident of the sound underlying growth of the fresh prepared foods sector and confident of the company’s ability to make good returns, which Geest expects to be increasingly visible towards the end of the current year and particularly in 2004.