The Russian meat producer Cherkizovo Group plc has issued an upbeat trading statement for the first half of the year.

The company said that average prices in its meat processing business had increased by nearly 12% in the first six months, against the first six months of 2005. Cherkizovo said it also expects further price improvement in the meat processing division.

Cherkizovo also reported that meat processing volumes were in line with management forecasts for the first half. However, it expected volumes to remain flat in comparison with last year.

The first six months saw higher volumes of premium high margin products such as semi-smoked and cooked smoked sausages, the company said. The company also significantly increased volumes of raw meat products sold to McDonalds and Metro.

In spite of the impact of the avian flu on Cherkizovo’s poultry business, poultry prices fell by just 6% in the first half, the company said. Cherkizovo said poultry prices had begun to recover in July and August, and it expects prices to be back at 2005 levels by the end of the year. Volumes were up 20% in the first half.

Average pork prices increased by 27% in the first six months, with pork volumes rising by 5%.