Food ingredients sales at Irish dairy firm Glanbia jumped 20 per cent during the first half and lifted profits 49 per cent higher than the previous year, reported the company, which is targeting strong growth for its ingredients business under a new, health-oriented strategy.
The company, which is also Europe's biggest maker of cheese for pizzas, is looking to increase sales from the nutritional products sector and has established a 'nutritionals' division within its core Food Ingredients business. The division, with headquarters in the US, makes dairy bioactives such as Prolibra, TruCal and Provon for applications in sports nutrition, weight loss and other functional foods.
Along with consumer foods and dairy food ingredients, Nutritionals -which is expected to become a stand-along unit - is targeted for significant growth following a company reorganisation last year. Further investments to a new US-based whey processing facility that opened in June this year will provide key raw materials -protein isolates - for the health ingredients business. This will come on stream in December 2004.
"Good progress was made in the first half with a number of new product launches in the EU and the US that are part of an overall pipeline of new products in the area," said a company statement.
"There is ongoing opportunity to develop the nutritionals business through acquisition, which will enhance the group's capability in key areas such as formulation, packaging, marketing and distribution," it added.
Glanbia has already acquired a €1.3 million stake in health sciences start-up Westgate Biologicals, which is developing an antimicrobial product based on a dairy ingredient for oral hygiene.It has a further €1.3 million joint venture agreement with Ireland-based Nash's Mineral waters, a premium bottled water brand.
Geraldine Kearney, director of communications, said: "I expect some small-scale investments by the end of the year. We are actively looking at options although large-scale acquisitions make take a bit longer."
Glanbia's income has been hit by the restructuring measures to its UK business as well as difficulties in its pork meat business.
While it reported pre-tax profits of €35.75 million for the six months ended July 3, three times the year-earlier period, overall sales were down 7.3 per cent to €974 million, hurt by higher prices for pig meat at its consumer foods business. Operating profit was down 11.6 per cent to 40.17 million.
However the recently agreed sale of Glanbia's UK cheese business to a joint-venture company with Milk Link will bring in net proceeds of £79.9 million to be invested in nutritional goods.