Higher sales and tight control has improved first-quarter earnings at Norwegian food group Rieber & Søn.

The group, which makes a range of food products and operates in seven countries, saw first-quarter operating profit jump 29% to NOK95m (US$14.5m).

Sales rose 3.4% to NOK1.24bn, with 1.7% attributable to currency fluctuations. On an organic basis, sales stood at 1.8%.

The declining value of the Norwegian, Czech and Polish currencies against the euro and the US dollar increased the cost of Rieber & Søn’s imported raw materials. The company said the fluctuation in currency had offset the decline in raw materials prices, which have fallen from a “historically high level”. 
The weakness of the Swedish kroner has hit Rieber & Søn’s exports from its Danish operations to Sweden, although the group’s King Oscar seafood business has benefited from the stronger US dollar, especially against the Polish zloty.

“Exchange rate fluctuations have had only a minor negative impact on the group as a whole,” said CEO Patrik Andersson.

The Rieber & Søn boss said the company had withstood the downturn. “The common denominator is that everyone has to have food. That is why we are relatively unaffected by the recession,” said Andersson.