Dutch diary food firm Royal Friesland Foods has said first-half net profit fell 8% to €45m (US$55.8m), mainly due to the pressure on margins in Asia and Africa.

This was caused by higher raw material and packaging costs not being fully passed on. The fall was partly offset by an improved operating profit in Western Europe thanks to efficiency gains from restructuring.

Net turnover fell by 1% to €2.2bn. At constant exchange rates, net turnover was the same as in the first half of 2004.
"Unfortunately, the increase in turnover realised in Southeast Asia and West Africa does not result in higher profit, due to unfavourable currency movements and rising raw material costs. However, I am satisfied with the improved performance in Western Europe," said Luc Dahlhaus, president of the board of management of Friesland Foods.

The company, whose brands include Rainbow, Peak/Bonnet, Debic, Pöttyös/Dots and Chocomel/Cécémel, did not give a statement on the expected result for 2005, citing uncertain market conditions and the volatility of currencies.