Royal Wessanen, the Dutch food group, today (9 May) posted a 2.5% rise in first-quarter profits as sales rose in Europe and North America.

The company booked operating profit of EUR12.4m (US$19.2m) for the three months to the end of March.

Currency fluctuations weighed on turnover, which was flat at EUR384.6m. However, after stripping out the effect of a weak US dollar, sales rose 8.3%.

Revenue from Wessanen's European business rose 5.9% to EUR159m thanks to the company's natural and organic products. Earnings in Europe, however, dipped 3% to EUR12.6m. Wessanen said a real estate gain had boosted last year's result.

Profits in North America, however, doubled to EUR3m, on sales of US$330.8m, a rise of 8.5%.

CEO Ad Veenhof said he was "particularly pleased" with the performance of the North American business.

"Following the growth trend from previous quarters, all our businesses are again posting solid growth figures," Veenhof said.