US food and beverage group Sara Lee has decided to keep its Australian bakery operations after a review of the business.

The unit will be part of the North American meats company that will be created when Sara Lee's international beverage operations are spun off from the group later this year.

Sara Lee's remaining US bakery operations, which sells products including pies and cakes, will also be part of what the company is now dubbing Meat Co. Last year, Sara Lee sold its fresh bakery business in the US to Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo.

The latest on the future of Sara Lee's bakery operations in Australia emerged as the company reported its half-year financial results.

"We have decided to retain it and put it together with our US business and make that a kind of a combined bakery business so it falls under the Meat Co. in the future. So, Sara Lee sweet bakery is an entity within the Meat Co. business," Bennink told analysts.

He did not comment on why Sara Lee had decided to keep the business, which generated US$5m in operating income in the six months to 31 December, despite a 5.2% fall in sales to $73m.

When contacted by just-food, a spokesperson declined to comment further.

Sara Lee has been scaling back its bakery business in recent years. The sale of the US fresh bakery operations was completed in November after the deal, which was signed in 2010, secured anti-trust approval.

A month later, Sara Lee finalised the sale of its fresh bakery business in Spain and Portugal to Bimbo.