Spanish food group Ebro Puleva today (29 July) posted net profit of EUR78.6m (US$122.5m) in the first half of this financial year, up 60% year-on-year.

The company's net turnover rose 13% year on year to EUR1.4bn while EBITDA totalled EUR146m, down marginally on last year due to an increased advertising expenditure and the impact of currency exchange.

Stripping out these factors, Ebro said EBITDA would have been EUR2m up on the first half of 2007.

The company said that it had achieved a "satisfactory evolution" thanks to the strong performance of its meal solutions unit, which grew in volume, maintained market share and increased EBITDA by 23%.
Ebro's rice business faired well, despite a 200% increase in the cost of raw materials, with turnover climbing 16.3% to EUR445.5m and EBITDA up 43% to EUR61m. The unit saw sales growth driven by new product development, particularly in the US where the group launched a microwaveable line.
Meanwhile, Ebro said that its pasta division grew market share in Canada and France and maintained its position in the competitive US market. 

However, the dairy division's profits dropped by EUR6.7m from the comparable period of 2007, dented by the hauliers strike, restructuring costs at Lactimilk and the increased price of raw materials.

In contrast, Ebro's baby and infant nutrition unit brought "excellent results", with turnover up 6.3% to EUR263m.

Updating the market on the sale or spin-off of its sugar operations, Ebro reportedly said that it has been approached by 11 suitors for the business.

The company was unavailable for further comment on this as just-food went to press.

However, Ebro did say that it would be providing further information on the process in the second half of the year.