US speciality foods producer Lancaster Colony today (29 January) posted an increase in half-year profits and said it expects to benefit as commodity costs moderate.

For the six months to 31 December, net income reached US$39.4m or $1.40 per diluted share. In the prior year, net income totalled $31.6m or $1.05 per diluted share.

Income from continuing operations for the six months also reached $39.4m compared to $29.9m earned in the first six months of the previous year.

Net sales were $552m compared to $513m for the comparable period in 2007.

John Gerlach, chairman and CEO, said: "We were pleased with the quarter's consolidated results given the many economic challenges faced by our customers and consumers. We were also encouraged to see a seasonally strong retail mix, higher sales volumes and various pricing actions begin to move specialty foods operating margins toward more historic levels."

Looking ahead, Gerlach said he expects the company's specialty foods results to benefit as key commodity costs "moderate from the prior year's unprecedented highs".

The company posted second-quarter net income of $28.5m compared to $16m in the same quarter last year and a 7% increase in net sales to $288.2m.