Greencore, the Ireland-based convenience food group, said today (14 January) that its first-quarter sales rose more than 7% as the business benefited from “favourable” market trends.

The company booked a 7.6% increase in “continuing business revenue” to EUR208.7m (US$278.9m) for the three months to 24 December. The figure excluded contributions from operations sold last year.

Greencore said the performance of its two key divisions – food-to-go and prepared meals – was “strong”.

“Value remains a key consumer theme and the group’s portfolio meets this need,” Greencore said.

The group said its US business was trading “in line with expectations” amid a re-fit of its Newburyport facility.

Greencore is planning to merge with UK food group Northern Foods but is facing a potential rival bid from poultry-to-fish processor Boparan Holdings.

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Following Northern’s public support of the merger plans yesterday, Greencore used its trading update to insist the move was “a compelling opportunity for value creation for both Greencore and Northern Foods shareholders, through the creation of a business with real scale in the industry and substantial synergies”.

Greencore and Northern shareholders vote on the merger plans on 31 January. Boparan Holdings has until 21 January to declare whether it will make a bid for Northern.