Hilton Food Group has shrugged off the impact of higher meat prices on consumer spending to post half-year profits up 8.8%.

Hilton a major packer of beef and lamb for Tesco posted a £12.6m pre-tax profit for the 28-week period to 17 July 2011.

Higher meat prices had restrained volume growth to just 2.5% but they had contributed to strong turnover growth of 10.3%, to £496.2m, the company said.

The meat industry had come through a period of very high commodity meat prices but the supply chain had been well managed throughout, chief executive Robert Watson told The Grocer. "We're continually looking at how we can make ourselves more efficient," he added. "That can offset rising input costs."

Hilton was particularly well-placed to mitigate rising commodity costs as it had the flexibility to change sources of supply, said Watson.

The financial crisis had spawned a more prudent, "more mobile" shopper, but Hilton had not seen dramatic downtrading in consumer spending on meat, he said. Meat was still an important part of shoppers' budgets and there was likely to be a "natural acceptance" of inflated prices in future.

Hilton's "solid figures" would enable the company to invest in current facilities and look at future opportunities, said Watson.

Over the six-month period, 74% of the company's revenue had been earned outside the UK and 76% of its total volume of meat had been packed outside the UK.

Hilton Food Group's ­operating profit margin was 2.7%, unchanged year-on-year.