Austrian fruit, sugar and starch group Agrana has reported first-half revenues of €723.5m (US$867.0m), up 53.1% from the year-ago period.

The increase in revenues for the six months to 31 August was largely due to an advance in sugar sales by volume and the addition of fruit preparations firm Atys Group from the second quarter.

First-half profit from operating activities advanced by 19.5% to €47.8m. First-half profit after tax grew from €33.5m to €34.6m.

“The takeover of a majority stake in the Atys Group in the second quarter of 2005/06 and bringing forward the acquisition of the group’s remaining stock by a year, namely to the end of 2005, represent major strategic milestones in the development of our fruit division, securing our group’s dynamic growth in revenues and profits and reducing its dependence on profits in the sugar division,” said Johann Marihart, chairman of the Agrana Group’s managing board.

“The reform of the EU sugar market regime is presenting Agrana with major challenges and will necessitate further rationalisation,” Marihart added.