A robust second-quarter has driven a 12% rise in half-year profits at US-based food giant Heinz.

Heinz said a jump in infant nutrition sales and accelerated growth in Europe and its “emerging” markets had powered its results during the three months to 31 October.

For the first half of the year, operating profit jumped 12% to US$787.7m on the back of an 11% rise in sales to $4.8bn.

Rising profits in Europe and Asia-Pacific – and from Heinz’s consumer business in North America – offset growing commodity costs and a hike in marketing investment.

“Heinz is connecting well with consumers across the world through creative marketing and a full pipeline of innovation,” said Heinz chairman, president and CEO William Johnson.

“This has contributed to our strong momentum, including the excellent sales and profit performance in the second quarter and our improved outlook for fiscal 2008.”

Ketchup sales in the second quarter were up 5% driven by growth in Europe. Soup sales climbed 18%, while sales of beans rose 13%.

In Heinz’s emerging markets, sales jumped by almost a quarter thanks to a strong performance in China, where the company saw a relaunch of its infant nutrition range lead to strong sales.