Kirin Holdings, the Japan-based food and drink group, today (10 February) booked a 39% fall in 2009 profits and warned of another - albeit less pronounced - fall in 2010.

The company behind Lion Nathan National Foods, the Australian business behind Dairy Farmers and National Foods, posted net profit of JPY49.17bn (US$548.3m), a drop of 38.7% on 2008.

Kirin blamed one-off losses for the fall in 2009 net earnings, while operating profit fell 12% to JPY128.44bn. Kirin's sales dipped 1.1% to JPY2.28trn.

Nevertheless, Kirin's food interests, which are grouped within its soft drink and foods business, were buoyant.

Kirin recorded a 10.4% rise in operating income from its soft drink and foods division to JPY7bn. Sales from the division were up 2.6% to JPY735bn.

Kirin said its National Foods unit had put in a "strong performance" despite consumers moving to cheaper milk products.

The company said National Foods profits were helped by lower commodity costs and synergies from the integration of Dairy Farmers into that part of the business.

Looking ahead to 2010, Kirin forecast a net profit of JPY48bn, a fall of 2.4% to that posted in 2009. The company's sales guidance has been set at JPY2.2trn - 2.6% lower than in 2009.

However, Kirin has targeted a 3.6% rise in operating profit to JPY133bn.