Chinese food and beverage company COFCO International Ltd said today (Wednesday) that its profits had fallen in 2004 because of higher raw material costs.

Net profit in 2004 totalled HK$300.7m (US$38.55m), down from HK$412.7m in 2003, according to a report published by the Dow Jones agency. Revenue rose to HK$16.80bn from HK$13.69bn.

“The soaring price of soybean and other raw materials during the first half of 2004 created great challenges, and they had a serious negative impact on the company’s overall performance,” said COFCO’s Managing Director Yu Guangquan.

Prices of imported soybean were at historical highs for several months during the first half, but COFCO’s edible oils and soyabean meal division had a turnaround in the second half of the year as soyabean prices declined. It returned to profit in the fourth quarter.

COFCO International is the Hong Kong-listed arm of state-owned China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corp.