The UK-based sugar group Tate & Lyle said today (29 March) that its trading performance since 25 January 2006 has been “generally encouraging”. The company issued a trading update prior to entering its closed period for the year ending 31 March 2006.

The company said its Food & Industrial Ingredients, Americas division had been performing strongly, benefiting from higher selling prices since the beginning of the year across all major product groups in both the US and Mexico. In addition, the division’s performance had been boosted by volume growth in value added food ingredients.  All major capital expansion projects were on schedule, the company said.

The group’s Food & Industrial Ingredients operation in Europe was hit by higher energy costs and significantly lower sweetener prices, only partially offset by favourable raw material costs and improved selling prices.

Meanwhile, sales of Splenda Sucralose have continued to perform well although manufacturing costs have been rising, mainly due to increased energy and ingredient prices, and expansion related operational constraints.

The company added that the decline in earnings at its Sugars, Europe division had continued as a result of higher energy costs and pressure on selling prices caused by an oversupply of sugar and impending changes to the EU sugar regime. However, this had been offset by a strong performance from Tate & Lyle Sugar Trading, while the Sugars, Americas and Asia division continued to perform in line with expectations.

Tate & Lyle is due to publish its results for the year to the end of March 2006 on 25 May 2006.