Food company Nutreco has announced a rise in profits for the first half of 2005, despite a fall in sales due to the sale of its pork processing company Hendrix Meat Group.

Net sales fell to €1.519bn (US$1.853bn), compared with €1.844bn in the same period last year. The net profit before tax was €38.4m, compared with €23.6m.

"An improvement of more than 70% in the net result compared with the first half of 2004 is pleasing for a period of such fundamental changes in Nutreco's portfolio," said CEO Wout Dekker. Since the announcement of Nutreco's strategic plan of action "Rebalancing for Growth" in November 2004, we have pushed hard to implement the strategy."

"We've managed to achieve most of the actions planned for 2005 in the first half of the year, with the emphasis very much on "Rebalancing" aspects - the rearrangement of Nutreco's portfolio: reducing the meat production, establishing a joint venture for fish farming and focusing more on animal nutrition and fish feed instead," he said. We are now embarking on the next stage, which involves growing our animal nutrition and fish feed activities in existing markets and also expanding into new markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America."

Fish feed, meat and breeding all reported increased sales. The increase was largely cancelled out by a decrease in animal nutrition sales, mainly accounted for by considerably lower soya and grain prices in the first half of 2005 compared with the same period in 2004.

The lower sales figure is mainly due to the disposal of pork processing company
Hendrix Meat Group in December 2004. In addition, sales at Marine Harvest, its fish farming joint venture with Norway's Stolt-Nielsen were consolidated for a full six months in 2004 and only four months in 2005, up to the date of establishment of the joint venture on 29 April 2005.

The operating result before amortisation of goodwill (EBITA) on core activities before exceptional items was up by 90.0% at €51.3m, mainly owing to a strong recovery in the meat business results in Spain.

The result on non-core activities (including Marine Harvest) increased from €1.6m in 2004 to €9.1m in the first half of 2005. This increase was mainly accounted for by the operating profit for Marine Harvest in 2005 (4 months), amounting to €5.8m, compared with an operating loss of €4.6m in the first half of 2004. The results of Pingo Poultry, the poultry business which is currently being sold, also improved as a result of the 2004 reorganisation.