Javed Ahmed, Chief Executive, said:
While our overall results were held back by a soft beverage season in the US which affected both divisions, the business performed solidly in the first half with good sales growth in Speciality Food Ingredients supported by particularly strong volume growth in emerging markets. We continue to be pleased with the progress we are making in delivering our long-term strategy. As well as broadening the geographic mix of the business, we are increasingly leveraging the investments we have made to strengthen our global innovation capabilities and to collaborate more closely with our customers.
- Speciality Food Ingredients sales growth of 10% (7% in constant currency) with adjusted operating profit up 3% (1% in constant currency) at £112 million (2012 £108 million)
- Bulk Ingredients adjusted operating profit 9% lower (down 11% in constant currency) at £92 million (2012 £101 million) as a result of lower US sweetener volumes
- 5.4% increase in interim dividend to 7.8p (2012 7.4p)
- Balance sheet remains strong with £143 million reduction in net debt to £336 million (March 2013 £479 million)
In Speciality Food Ingredients, we expect to deliver growth in volumes, sales and profits across all regions for the full year.
Within Bulk Ingredients, in North America we expect solid demand for liquid sweeteners and stable demand for our other products. In Europe, lower corn prices are expected to more than offset the impact of lower sugar prices on isoglucose margins. Consequently, we anticipate this division delivering a stronger performance during the second half than the same period last year and full year profits to be more evenly distributed between the first and second half.
Our profits remain sensitive to fluctuations in foreign currency particularly the US dollar to sterling exchange rate. In addition, as usual, the outcome of the calendar year sweetener pricing rounds will influence performance in the final quarter of the financial year.
Overall, we expect to deliver another year of profitable growth.