US dips-to-salad dressings maker Lancaster Colony yesterday (28 January) issued a cautious outlook for the next six months of its fiscal year despite a rise in first-half earnings.

The company, which makes non-food items like candles alongside grocery brands like Marzetti, booked net income of US$67.9m for the six months to the end of December - up sharply from $39.5m a year earlier. Net sales, meanwhile, inched up by 1.1% to $558m.

Operating income from Lancaster's speciality foods business jumped 42% in the second quarter to $56.1m, while the group's glassware and candles unit swung from a loss of $1m a year ago to income of $6.1m.

However, Lancaster's quarterly speciality food sales dipped 1% to $243.1m due to lower foodservice volumes.

Chairman and CEO John Gerlach, Jr. warned investors that Lancaster's second-half numbers would be less robust due to continued challenges in foodservice.

"Second half year-over-year comparative results will be less robust than the first-half comparisons as we face further pressure on foodservice sales, substantially less benefit from lower ingredient costs, and the seasonal dip in food and candle retail sales dynamics," Gerlach said.