French food group Bonduelle reported today (9 October) that operating profit on ordinary activities before tax increased by 2.2% for the full year, up from EUR69m (US$86.97m) in FY2004/5 to EUR70.5m in FY2005/6, despite what the company described as "an extremely bleak consumer climate within the EU".

Revenues for the period were down 0.4% from EUR1.201bn to EUR1.196bn, in line with forecasts. Group net profits rose 3.2% to EUR39.2m.

Canned-vegetable sales were up 1.2%, while frozen-vegetable sales showed mixed results with, on the one hand, a significant lowering of prices in the mass-consumer market in Western Europe, and on the other hand, positive growth in the professional food-service sector and outside the EU. The company said that the withdrawal of fresh salads from non-domestic catering networks had a negative impact on chilled vegetable sales, which nevertheless increased by 4.2% and accounted for 29% of the group's consolidated turnover.

At the general shareholders meeting scheduled to be held on 7 December, the board will propose a dividend of EUR1.25 per share, up almost 12%.

Bonduelle forecast higher sales for next year thanks to the positive impact expected from acquisitions, including the acquisition of Unilever's remaining frozen-vegetable operations in Spain and a stake in Aliments Carrière, the leading Canadian producer of canned and frozen vegetables, which boasts an annual sales figure of EUR230m.