Shares in Tate & Lyle plc dropped 3% today (9 February), despite an upbeat trading update that insisted the company is "on track" to book a "good performance" in the twelve months to 31 March.

The UK-based sweeteners manufacturer reported higher third-quarter sales volumes year-on-year across its speciality food ingredients, corn-based speciality sweeteners and starches and sucralose units. Meanwhile, the group's higher bulk ingredients sales were propelled by North American and Mexican demand for liquid sweetener, while in Europe the company was able to boost liquid sweetener margins.

"The group has performed well during the first nine months of the financial year. While we recognise the wider uncertainties in the global economy, we remain on track to deliver a good performance for the full financial year," the company indicated.

However, Tate & Lyle did note that volume growth in speciality foods and sucralose had slowed in the quarter when compared to the company's "strong" first half, while industrial starch volumes fell due to weaker demand linked to the "uncertain economic environment" in Europe.

Following the announcement, Shore Capital analysts reiterated their 'hold' rating on the company, emphasising the group's exposure to volatile commodity markets.

"Whilst we are supportive of management’s strategy to devolve Tate's profit exposure to volatile commodity markets through a focus on SFI, any transformation remains in the early phases with evidence of delivery limited," ShoreCap analysts wrote in a note to investors.

While ShoreCap retained its current pre-tax profit forecast of GBP294m (US$465.6m) for fiscal 2011/12, the analysts raised their fiscal 2012/13 forecast by 8% to GBP329m.

Nevertheless, Tate & Lyle shares slipped throughout the day, declining by 3.09% to 673p at 3.50pm (GMT).