Higher cheese prices and improved efficiency meant Saputo, the Canada-based dairy group, saw profits jump by over a quarter last year.

The company yesterday (5 June) posted a 26% jump in operating income to C$446.6m (US$438.5m) for the year to 31 March. Turnover rose 26.4% to C$5bn.

Saputo, which also makes a range of cakes, pies and cookies, enjoyed bumper earnings from its dairy business.

Operating income from its dairy products operations in Canada, Europe and Argentina, climbed 16% to C$326.6m.

Saputo saw operating income from its dairy business in the US almost double to C$110.7m thanks to last year's acquisition of the Land O'Lakes industrial cheese business and California's policy to lower the cost of manufacturing milk.

However, Saputo's non-dairy business, which sells cakes, pies and cookies, saw operating income tumble by 54% due to higher ingredients costs and lower sales volumes in Canada and the US.