Irish food maker Kerry Group said it has maintained its earnings growth forecast for 2009.

The ingredients and consumer foods group said it expected earnings per share for the full year at the upper end of the range of its 160 cent to 165 cent forecast, which was issued in February.

"Continuing business volumes on a group-wide basis again showed a modest improvement and the trading profit margin reflects a 70 basis points improvement relative to the same ten-month period of 2008 - driven by on-going efficiency programmes throughout the group and Kerry Ingredients & Flavours' 'go-to-market' programme," the company said in a trading update for the ten months to 31 October.

For the ten-month period, continuing business volumes were 3% ahead in ingredients and flavours, back 0.8% in consumer foods and 1.5% ahead on a group-wide basis. 

Overall reported revenues were 6% below the same period of 2008 due to the adverse impact of currency changes, lower pricing and elimination of non-core activities associated with business restructuring activities arising from the 'go-to-market' programme.

Meanwhile, Kerry said the challenging economic environment - particularly in Ireland - coupled with the depreciation of the sterling/euro exchange rate, adversely impacted reported revenues in its consumer foods businesses.