Israeli food maker Strauss Group has posted lower quarterly profits after lapping last year’s first quarter, which was boosted by a one-off gain.

The company today (26 May) booked net income of NIS74m (US$18.5m) for the first three months of 2009, down from NIS84m a year earlier.

However, Strauss insisted last year’s numbers had been helped by a capital again of NIS27.3nm due to “the transfer from full to proportionate consolidation of Sabra’s activity”.

In March last year, Strauss struck a deal to run hummus producer Sabra as a joint venture with US food and beverage giant PepsiCo.

Operating profit stood at NIS135m compared to NIS125 a year ago. Sales climbed 6.3% on an organic basis but inched up 1.2% to NIS1.52bn on a reported basis.

On a pro-forma basis, first-quarter operating profit totalled NIS135m compared to NIS137m last year due to a fall in pro-forma coffee earnings.

Gadi Lesin, Strauss’s incoming CEO, said: “Strauss Group presented a solid start to the year, with growth in both sales and profits, resulting from the group’s sound foundations, enabling it to meet the challenges posed in 2009. The improvement is notable for all of the Group’s activities in Israel, global coffee and our North-American operations.”

Lesin will formally become Strauss’s CEO on 1 July.