Yoplait UK slumped to a £55m pre-tax loss last year as the yogurt brand was hit by declining sales and a write down on the sale of Chinese arm.

Sales at the UK arm of the brand, jointly owned by United States–based food conglomerate General Mills and French dairy cooperative Sodiaal, fell back a further 5.8% in the year to 26 May amid a continued slowdown in the category.

Yoplait blamed an “extremely competitive environment” for the sales slowdown, which also hit profitability.

Operating profit declined by 19.5% from £18.1m to £14.6m in the period, but the business was pushed into a huge £54.7m pre-tax loss by a £70m loss on the sale its Chinese business.

The accounts show Yoplait sold China arm Yoplait Dairy Co Ltd in March 2019 for £34m to Chinese private equity investment fund Tiantu Capital.

The value of its investment in May 2018 in the business was £24m, however since then an further infusion of capital and the transfer of inter-company loans took that investment to £104m before the sale leading to a £70m accounting loss on the deal.

Last week The Grocer’s Top Products data showed the yoghurts category fell by £50.6m in grocery, equating to 193.1 million fewer units [Nielsen].

Key Yoplait brand Petits Filous saw a 13.8% slump in annual sales as British consumers continued to move away from traditional yoghurt consumption.

A Yoplait UK spokesperson said: “Whilst 2019 has been a challenging year for the Yogurt category, Yoplait is focused on growth in 2020.”

“We are delighted to have recently launched new innovations addressing key consumer needs, including our first-ever Petits Filous mess-free drinking yogurt as well as a no added sugar Petits Filous variant.”