Australian food group Goodman Fielder posted a steep decline in both EBIT and net profit after tax for fiscal 2008, hit by rising commodity and logistics costs and an A$170m (US$145.57m) write-down in goodwill on its New Zealand dairy operations.

The company published two sets of profit figures, one reported and one normalised to exclude the impact of restructuring costs and non-cash impairment and FX items.

EBIT on a reported basis was $151.4m for 2008, against $388.9m for 2007. On a normalised basis, EBIT fell to $349.0m from $376.3m in comparable terms for 2007.

Reported net income after tax for 2008 fell to $27.7m, from $388.9m in 2007. Goodman Fielder posted normalised NPAT of $220.7m for 2008, against a comparable figure of $239.8m for 2007.

Looking ahead, Goodman Fielder said it sees "little improvement in the underlying earnings in fiscal '09 due to uncertainty around commodity costs and future economic conditions in Australia and New Zealand".

However, the company was more optimistic about 2010 when it expects to see the benefits from "significant capital expenditure and resulting efficiency gains, combined with softening commodity prices".

Sales for the 2008 fiscal year rose by 10.2% to A$2.675bn (US$2.29bn), on the back of a 60% increase in expenditure on marketing support.

The company's Fresh Baking division experienced "very difficult" trading conditions throughout the year, particularly in the second half. As a result, EBIT declined by 12.9% to $131.4m, the company reported.

The company said its commercial division had to contend with rising commodity prices. EBIT fell by 4.6% to $66.0m, on sales of $585.3m, up 11.6%. GF Fresh Dairy and Meats recorded a 19.4% increase in sales during the year, up $76.0m on the prior year, but EBIT was down by 31.9% at $34.4m.

However, GF Pacific recorded a 13% increase in EBIT to $33.1m, from $29.3m last year, despite record high commodity prices and a strong Australian dollar.

During the year, Goodman Fielder acquired Paradise Foods, Australia's second largest biscuit manufacturer, providing the group with an entry into Australia's $1.3bn biscuit market.