Fromageries Bel has posted a leap in first-half profits despite "extremely competitive" market conditions.

The maker of The Laughing Cow cheese booked net profit of EUR47.8m (US$65.2m) for the six months to the end of June, up 45.4% on the year. First-half sales rose 6.2% to EUR904m.

However, Bel sounded a note of caution for the second half of the year, pointing to growing commodity costs. The group expects these increases to restrain second half profits and has already borrowed to fund some forward buying, as well as investing in new processing technology.

Cheese making, which also includes global cheese brands Leerdammer, Kiri and Babybel, accounted for EUR829.6m sales.

Earlier this year Bel acquired Ukraine cheese maker Shostka and formed a joint venture, Sahar Bel, in Iran.