Two of Britain's largest dairy companies have reported sharp uplifts in profits, raising hopes the outlook for the dairy market is starting to improve.

In the past week, processors Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman have both announced double-digit growth in pre-tax profits a turnaround on the same period last year when both issued profit downgrades.

Dairy Crest's pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 September rose 20% to £34m year-on-year. And although turnover fell 1% to £803.7m, cashflow improved by £45.3m to £58.6m as a result of its ongoing efficiency programme.

The company also posted strong growth in its five key brands on the back of heavy investment in marketing and promotions, with Frijj value sales up 21%, St Hubert Omega-3 13%, Clover 13%, Cathedral City 8% and Country Life 4%. The Cathedral City brand has hit £200m sales for the first time.

Robert Wiseman, meanwhile, reported an 81.4% surge in pre-tax profits to £21m for the six months to 3 October, having made a number of key contract wins and picked up new business following the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain. Turnover increased 7% to £423.9m and net debt almost halved to £26.7m.

"With the completion of the investments at Bridgwater dairy and Amesbury depot, we are well placed to continue the growth in volumes and improve operating margins in the medium term," said chief executive Robert Wiseman.

Elsewhere, Milk Link reported "satisfactory" half-yearly results after group turnover fell from £278m to £271m.

Pre-tax profits were up from £1.4m to £4.9m, but last year's results had been impacted by exceptional costs in relation to the disposal of Staplemead creamery, Milk Link said.

"We expect full-year profits to be broadly in line with last year and believe we are well placed to strengthen our overall position within the market," said chief executive Neil Kennedy.