US-based food giant Sara Lee has reported a dip in half-year profits as higher commodity costs offset a rise in sales.

The company, maker of brands including Sara Lee bread and Hillshire Farm meats, booked underlying operating income of US$440m, a fall of 0.7%, for the six months to 29 December. Underlying net sales rose 4.3% to $6.6bn.

Nevertheless, chairman and CEO Brenda Barnes said some of the company's key brands had gained share during the last three months.

"The higher advertising and promotion spending that supported more than 40 new products launched this quarter helped us strengthen our position as a marketplace leader," Barnes said.

In North America, Sara Lee's meats sales rose 2% during the first half of the company's financial year. The company's bakery sales in the market rose 6.6%.