The US-based agricultural firm said earnings for the period ending November 30 2007 were up from $662m from the same period last year. It added that the growth was bought along by heavy investment. Over the past seven years, Cargill spent more than $18bn to expand the company's global footprint. In that time, the group has posted continuous sales growth. The six month results, also released yesterday, show the company earned $1.87 bn, a 61 percent increase on last year. Four of Cargill's five business segments increased earnings from last year's second quarter. The largest contribution came from the Origination and Processing segment. The firm said its Industrial, Food Ingredients and Applications, and Agriculture Services segments also showed "improved performances". Further breakdown of the figures are not available as the company is privately held. Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer, said: "Strong fundamentals are driving volume and volatility in global agriculture today. Cargill is in position to benefit from these forces because of our past investments, our risk management and our commitment to creating shared value with customers." This period has been a busy one for the firm, which is now finalizing the conversion of its sweetener facility in Manchester, UK, to a wheat grind from corn. In Brazil, the firm began producing chocolate for the food industry from its new facility in Porto Ferreira. The company also signed a joint venture with Hojiblanca, an olive oil cooperative in Spain. A website offering a one stop shop for buying grain has also been set up by Cargill. Investments the company has made in food ingredients in recent years include: Degussa's food ingredients operations, which specialize in texturizers and flavor systems for the food and beverage industry; the joint-venture purchase of oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea; and the purchase of beef processing businesses in the United States and Canada.