Spanish food company Ebro Puleva has reported a 19% rise in first-half net profit to €63.7m (US$73.1m), from €53.6m a year earlier.

The company’s sales fell 9.3% to €973.6m due to the divestment of some non-core units, but sales of its core sugar, dairy and rice businesses rose 22%.

Ebro Puleva said profits at its rice unit Herba were hit by the fall of the dollar against the euro, but the company said rising rice prices in the US could lead to a significant improvement in second-half earnings, reported Dow Jones International News.

The company cut its net debt by 38% in the first half to €382.5m.