Increased prices have helped Parmalat report a rise in first-quarter net revenues, which led to a boost in earnings, despite rising raw material costs.

“The group responded quickly and effectively to the challenges posed by a major global crisis and the aggressive competition it faced on many of the countries where it operates,” Parmalat said yesterday (14 May).

Net revenues totalled EUR942.1m (US$1.28bn), up 5.4% on last year’s first quarter, excluding the impact of the appreciation of the euro against the currencies of the main countries outside the euro zone where Parmalat operates.

“This positive performance is due mainly to an increase in list prices, implemented to offset a rise in raw materials and other production costs, and a positive volume/mix effect,” the company said.

EBITDA reached EUR74.3m, up 21.1% compared with the same period last year.

“In the various markets where the group operates, raw material prices and other key production costs followed divergent trends during the first quarter of 2009, compared with the same period last year, with significant reductions in Italy and increases in Canada, Venezuela and South Africa.

“The group successfully addressed a challenging market environment characterised by aggressive competition from private labels by using a successful pricing policy, while stepping up promotional activities, which had a positive impact on basic products, and responding effectively to changing consumer buying habits. The gain in profitability was also achieved by carefully controlling overheads,” Parmalat said.

The company said that it had seen no reason to change its current full-year guidance that, assuming constant exchange rates, calls for revenue growth of 2% to 4% and an EBITDA ranging from EUR310 to EUR320m.