US spice brand Mccormick said today (29 March) that it is “operating effectively in a tough environment” as it recorded net profit growth during the first quarter.

The company said that net income grew 13.1% to reach US76.8m in the quarter ended 28 February.

McCormick said sales were up 2% to reach $782.8m, which it largely attributed to pricing actions taken in response to increased raw and packaging material costs.

“In response to a significant increase in raw and packaging material costs, we now have pricing actions in place on a majority of our products. As an additional offset to these cost increases, employees throughout McCormick are engaged in our Comprehensive Continuous Improvement (CCI) programme. CCI is our on-going initiative to improve productivity and reduce cost throughout the organisation,” said McCormick president, chairman and CEO Alan Wilson.

It said that volume and product mix declined 2% in its consumer business as it said increases from product introductions, brand marketing support and new distribution in the Americas and Asia/Pacific region were more than offset by weakness in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and the estimated impact of a shift in sales from the first quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2010.

“While conditions in Europe continue to challenge our consumer business in that region, we are growing sales in our other regions with product innovation, new distribution and brand marketing support. Product innovation and new distribution are also driving sales for our industrial business,” said Wilson.

It said the shift in sales was estimated to be $10m and was largely the result of US customer purchases in advance of a late 2010 price increase.

In its industrial business, increased customer demand in the Americas and EMEA regions included new products and drove a 3% increase in volume and product mix.