Lower costs have helped a fall in sales and drive half-year profits at produce giant Chiquita Brands International.

The company booked net income of US$33m for the six months to the end of June, compared to $6m last year. Operating income reached $66m, up from $17m.

A drop in the cost of sales and SG&A expenses drove the higher earnings. Net sales were 2.5% higher at $1.59bn.

A similar trend was seen in Chiquita’s bananas business in the second quarter, when sales fell but profits increased.

Quarterly profits from Chiquita’s salads and snacks division fell by two-thirds as plant consolidation offset higher sales.

However, president and CEO Ed Lonergan said: “We are reporting our first quarterly year-over-year volume growth in value-added salads since 2008.”

Click here for the full statement from Chiquita.