GOOD returns from the butter and milk powder markets helped Unigate to improved profits in the half year to the end of September.
At £60.4m on a turnover of just over £1bn, pre-tax profits for the group as a whole were 12.5% higher than in the same six months last year.
In the Fresh Foods division, Unigate reported a 66% increase in operating profit to £24.5m on sales of £511m. In addition to the better butter and powder results, cheese profits were also encouraging, though higher prices had not fully recouped the increased milk costs. Malton Bacon also benefited from the 24% increase in domestic and overseas sales. Higher pigmeat prices were offset by favourable exchange rates and lower unit costs.
The Dairies division suffered an 11% fall in operating profit to £16.5m on sales of £234m. Overall milk volumes dropped by 2%, while the prolonged hot weather in the summer contributed to an 18% fall in doorstep deliveries.