Pioneer Food Group, the South Africa-based food and drinks group, has warned its half-year earnings could fall by more than it previously estimated.

In February, the Sasko flour and Safari snacks maker forecast its earnings per share – and the closely-watched headline earnings per share – would both fall by between 38% and 55%.

Today (4 May), Pioneer cautioned its earnings on both metrics could have slid by 53% to 58% year-on-year in the six months to 31 March.

Pioneer said it had a “reasonable degree of certainty” about the new forecast. The company also said its operating profit before items of a capital nature, adjusted for the impact of a black economic empowerment share-based payment charge and one-off M&A costs, is expected to decrease by between 40% and 45% from the ZAR1.24bn (US$91.6m) it generated in the first half of its previous financial year.

The group reiterated “the major variance” in its financial performance “can be ascribed to maize and fruit, which should largely be of a non-recurring nature”.

Pioneer added: “The outlook for the second half of the financial year to 30 September 2017 should reflect an improvement on the first half.”

Last month, Pioneer announced its talks with local agribusiness investment firm – and minority shareholder – Zeder Investments about an unspecified deal had broken off.