Tate & Lyle has seen an “encouraging start” to the year, boosted by currency exchange and the performance of its food and industrial ingredients unit.

Delivering its interim management statement this morning (23 July), the UK sugar and ingredients company said that pre-tax profit was “in-line” with the comparative period of last year and “ahead of our expectations”.

While Tate & Lyle acknowledged that favourable currency exchange had helped massage the numbers, the company emphasised that it was also seeing its food and ingredients business regain some strength.

“Demand from food and beverage customers was stable and profits from value added ingredients continued to grow, demonstrating the resilience of this sector,” management said.

Results have continued to benefit from cost-reduction measures taken across the business, Tate & Lyle added.

While the company stopped short of providing any detailed guidance, as current economic conditions mean “visibility remains limited to the short term”, the statement said management continued to anticipate a “satisfactory performance” in the second quarter.

Nevertheless, the first half of this year is expected to be down on last year, which benefited from strong co-product revenues during the commodity price peak of summer 2008.