Meat processor Vion made a “cautious recovery” last year, increasing net profit from €54m (£46.6m) to €62m (£53.5m) on turnover 5% higher at €9bn (£7.8m).

That was despite European consumer behaviour being “adversely affected” across the entire meat production chain during the recession. “Consumers dined in more, preferred pork and chicken to lamb or beef, and had a tendency to buy lower-priced products,” a statement said.

Despite the tough conditions, Vion said it grew its business through product innovation, cost reductions and more focus on its three home markets of The Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Production volumes were also increased by the companies it acquired in 2008, such as Grampian Country Foods.

“This has been a challenging year for the UK business, but while much needs to be done, the results for the UK in 2009 have been very encouraging, as overall performance exceeded targets.

“A programme to consolidate the operations is ahead of plan and significant investment has been made across the UK business.”

The company was cautiously optimistic about 2010. “Although some would claim that the economic recession has passed, the effects of the worldwide economic downturn can still be felt in consumers’ buying behaviour.”