German sugar refiner Südzucker Group has reported rises in revenue and profits for the year ended 28 February 2005, boosted by activities in the EU's new member states.

Revenue rose to €4.827bn ($US6.1bn) from €4.575bn the year before. Operating profit grew from €479 in 2003/04 to €523m, the highest-ever profits for the Südzucker Group. Net earnings for the year were €375.5m, compared with €307.3m the previous year.

Growth in revenue for the sugar segment, from €3.395bn to €3.518bn, was primarily due to positive developments in eastern Europe, where EU expansion on 1 May 2004 led to an expected sharp rise in revenues, from €373m to €562m. On the other hand, in the EU 15 area there was a decrease in revenues of some 2.2 %, the company said. This was due to low sugar production during the 2003 campaign, whereby less sugar was available for export in 2004/05. Further negative factors were price pressure and a reduction in mixed feed and molasses revenues.

In the special products segment, the climb in revenues continued with an increase from €1,180m to €1,309m. About half this increase in turnover was due to continuing growth in the functional food, Freiberger and starch divisions. Sales growth in the special products segment was boosted by the integration of Steirerobst (9 months for 2004/05) and Stateside (only 6 months in 2003/04).

Operating profit was marked by a sound performance in the special products segment and a rise in profitability at the eastern European sugar companies, the company said.