Underlying half-year profits at Canada-based food ingredients and private-label group SunOpta fell thanks to a drought last year that hit sunflower processing yields.

The company booked earnings from continuing operations, excluding an impairment loss on an investment in a biofuel company, of US$23m for the six months to 29 June, down 9.5% on a year earlier.

SunOpta also said its Opta Minerals arm, which supplies industrial sectors including steel, faced “cyclical weakness” and the cost of recent acquisitions.

The impairment loss on the investment in Mascoma Corp. hit SunOpta’s bottom line during the half year. It booked a net loss of US$10.2m, compared to net income of US$14m a year earlier.

However, revenues increased 9.7% to US$594m, which SunOpta said was a record for the company. SunOpta pointed to demand for organic grains and feed products, plus growth in consumer products.

“There is no doubt that interest in healthy eating continues to grow and we believe we are well positioned to capitalise on future growth as consumers around the world increase their interest in healthy eating and healthy living,” CEO Steve Bromley said. “As we look ahead, we believe that 2013 will be another successful year for our company as we continue to execute on our core strategies of growing our value-added packaged foods and ingredients portfolio, and leveraging our integrated platform in support of our long-term operating targets.”

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