US rice maker Riviana Foods has posted a 6% drop in full-year gross operating profits to €34.5m (US$42.5m) on an 8.2% sales hike to €354.3m.

Net profits also fell 15% to €20.14m. Spanish food group Ebro Puleva, which recently acquired Riviana for €310m, did not explain the unit's profit decline and did not answer messages.

In a statement, Ebro said Riviana will boost 2004 group net earnings by 7.4% to €100.8m and sales 16% to €2.3bn. It will give Ebro a 17.5% and 30% share of the
US and European rice markets respectively.

One of Spain's biggest food companies, Ebro also makes sugar and dairy products. The company has made 8 international acquisitions since early 2003.