South African food group Pioneer Foods has posted a jump in full-year earnings, which were boosted by sales gains and margin improvements.

The company, which manufactures Weet-Bix cereal, said operating profits rose 34% to ZAR1.2bn (US$162.3bn). Headline earnings per share, after exceptional items, increased 22% to 355 cents.

Sales rose by 9%, increasing to ZAR16.3bn, with an "excellent" performance from the company's Sasko bread brand, the group said today (30 November).

"We achieved this satisfactory set of results in a deflationary environment where, in the second half of the year, selling prices in key categories either stabilised or contracted," Andre Hanekom MD said.

"Our earnings growth for the year, though relatively strong, basically brings us back to even keel, after the slow or declining growth we showed in recent reporting periods."