Swiss meat processing company Bell Group said it remains “on course”, despite booking a drop in first-half earnings.

In the six month period, earnings slid to CHF24.5m (US$26.2m) from CHF25.1m a year earlier. Bell said a 30% increase in raw material prices is putting “serious pressure” on margins, and it experienced a “lacklustre” barbecue season in view of the bad weather.

At CHF78.9m, Bell’s EBITDA was on a par with the previous year’s figure, while sales climbed 2.9% to CHF1.27bn.

Bell said the poor weather affected sales for its charcuterie business, which fell 1.7%, however, sales for its poultry unit improved 4.4%.

At the group’s full-year results in February, Bell said competition in the retail trade was likely to remain high. Nonetheless, it said it expected the actions initiated in 2012 to “unfold their impact in the course of the year and to significantly improve the group’s performance capabilities”.

In today’s outlook for the year ahead, the company said: “In the second half of the year, Bell will consistently continue to exploit the group-wide potential for synergies in order to build a firm foundation for continued profitable growth. If the market environment remains stable, Bell expects the international business to improve further. Although business performance in Switzerland is strongly dependent on future trends for raw material prices, Bell expects the operating result for the year 2013 as a whole to be in line with the previous year.”

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