Meiji Holdings, the Japanese food group, has reported higher first-quarter sales and profits from its food business, driven in part by improving performances from its yogurt, confectionery and nutrition businesses.

The business posted a rise in company-wide sales for the three months to the end of March, although its net profit fell as the group lapped the previous year’s first quarter when its bottom line was boosted by a gain on the sale of property.

Meiji’s food segment generated first-quarter net sales of JPY267.68bn (US$2.65bn), up 4.7% year-on-year. The company reported higher sales of fresh and fermented dairy, boosted by functional yogurt. Sales of drinking milk declined.

Sales of chocolate, gummy products and chewing gum rose year-on-year. Meiji’s nutrition business reported higher sales of sports nutrition and infant formula. The performance of Meiji’s processed food business was mixed. Cheese sales were up, while sales of margarine and frozen food declined.

The division’s operating income rose 53.4% to JPY22.01bn.

Group-wide net sales, which also include Meiji’s pharmaceutical business, were up 2.7% at JPY301.08bn. Operating income climbed 30.6% to JPY22.04bn, despite a slump in operating income from Meiji’s pharma business. Net income was down 25% at JPY16.69bn.

Meiji maintained its forecasts for the full financial year. It expects net sales to rise 2.2% to JPY1.25trn. However, Meiji has forecast a 4.2% fall in operating income to JPY74.5bn and a 20% decline in net income to JPY50bn.