Irish dairy giant Glanbia has blamed low exchange rates and US cheese prices for disappointing interim results.

Turnover for the half year to July 5 was down 16% to 1,050.8m euros from 1,246.7m euros in the first half of 2002.

Pre-tax profit was up 5.4% to 37.6m euros from 35.6m euros in 2002.

Glanbia said that despite strong sales in terms of volume, the UK retail cheese business had a “difficult” first half owing to “intensely competitive market conditions”.

In Ireland, sales of the group’s milk and chilled food businesses were however said to be “satisfactory”. The launches of new diary products such as Avonmore Milk Plus probiotic milk and single serve Avonmore Supermilk were cited as having helped the group to expand into the growing functional foods sector, its main focus for 2003.

The group said that new yogurt lines also assisted a “good overall performance” and that its UK fresh pork operations made a “satisfactory” performance during the six months.