Hilton Food Group has booked an increase in first-half sales and earnings despite depressed demand in key European markets.

The UK-based meat group said turnover rose 9.4% in the 28 weeks to 14 July, climbing to GBP503.8m (US$791.4m). The company said that gains driven by innovation and the recovery of higher input prices. Volumes increased 0.7% in the period.

Operating profit increased 1.2% to GBP13.4m, while pre-tax profit was up 4% to GBP10m.

Underlying profit was hit by start-up costs of GBP0.5m associated with the establishment of Hilton’s joint venture with Woolworths Ltd in Australia. The company said the venture was progressing well.

CEO Robert Watson added the project was part of the group’s strategy to diversify geographically.
“Our aim is to continue to extend the geographic reach of the Hilton model and we continue to look for new opportunities,” he said.

Hilton emphasised growth in key European markets was achieved in spite of weak consumer sentiment in the region.