San Miguel Purefoods has announced that it is to move into the branded snackfood sector. The company said it planned to invest some PHP2bn (US$38m) this year on the move into branded snackfoods and on bolstering its core operations.

San Miguel said its milled products and cereals subsidiary San Miguel Mills would be producing snackfood products, while Purefoods also plans to build a plant in Laguna for snackfood production, a report in the Manila Standard stated. It is also to move into the instant noodles market. Purefoods has already launched its first snack line, a chip and dip product called E-AJI.

Purefoods made the announcement as it reported first-quarter results which represented a significant improvement on 2005. The company posted net income for the first quarter of PHP107m, against a PHP40m net loss in the first quarter of 2005. Sales rose by 7% to PHP12.4bn, with the increase attributed to higher volumes across all business segments.

Purefoods chairman and chief executive officer Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. said he expects the company will sustain this level of growth over the full year.  The company also said it plans to step up international expansion this year.

"These results show that your company is moving toward greater strength and profitability. Despite extraordinary challenges we've had to hurdle, we've kept our focus and picked up the pace," Cojuangco said. "The future looks brighter than ever for San Miguel Purefoods. Looking ahead, we will keep on executing the same strategy that has brought us this far. We will continue to invest in our operations and improve our product lines as well as our bottom line."