Japanese food group Ajinomoto said today (6 November) that the global economic recession hit its first-half profits.

The company said that rising unemployment and a slowdown in consumer spending had dampened demand for its products in Japan and internationally.

Sales at the company dropped 6.6% to JPY584.7bn (US$6.5bn). Operating income plunged 63.3% to JPY33bn, the group added.

Within this environment, the group said that it had focused its efforts on creating demand, developing new markets, reducing costs and strengthening its business structure.

The company said that internationally, some regions - notably China - had started to recover, but the recession continued to dent its earnings in the US and Europe.