UK dairy firm Robert Wiseman Dairies has reported a sharp rise in first-half profit, boosted by new contracts with supermarkets and higher milk prices.

The company posted pre-tax profit of £13.5m (US$23.3m) for the six months to 27 September, a rise on 21% year-on-year. First-half turnover rose 19% to £223m.

Robert Wiseman said the average sale price per litre rose 6%, with the selling prices of milk and cream both rising. The company said its sales were boosted due to winning additional contracts in early 2003 with supermarket operators Safeway, Sainsbury, Somerfield and Tesco, reported Reuters.

Chairman Alan Wiseman said the strong performance had continued into the second half, with sales growth accelerating slightly in the first two months of the half.