Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. has seen first-half operating profit from its food arm halve due to losses on coffee contracts and falling earnings from maize, fruit juice and dairy.

Mitsui, one of the largest conglomerates in Japan, with interests from food to finance, energy and chemicals, said operating profit from its food and retail arm reached JPY5bn (US$61.7m) in the six months to the end of September – against JPY11.6bn a year earlier.

The company said it had incurred a mark-to-market loss on commodity derivative contracts within its coffee business.

Gross profit from maize, fruit juice and dairy fell while its European arm posting lower earnings due to the “poor performance” of its canned food business.

Equity in earnings from associated companies stood at JPY1.5bn, compared to JPY4.9bn a year ago due to an impairment loss on listed share in Coke bottler Mikuni Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Earnings from US firm Venture Foods also fell as competition hit margins.

Nevertheless, the net income from Mitsui’s food and retail arm reached JPY2.9bn, in contrast to a loss of JPY6.5bn a year ago when the company had to record a loss on its holdings in its Japanese retailer Seven & I Holdings.