Tate & Lyle has reported that operating profit for the first quarter was in line with expectations – despite weakness in European demand for food ingredients.

The starch and sweetener group said the weak European economy had hit sucralose volumes and – together with a strike at its joint venture plant in Turkey – affected profits in the specialty food ingredients division.

That was offset by better than expected profits from the bulk ingredients division, where liquid sweeteners performed strongly.

The company highlighted the rising price of corn caused by drought in the US and the hot and dry conditions in central Europe. It said it would maintain high levels of corn in storage to mitigate against supply risks.

“As in previous years, we will continue our strategy of maintaining full corn silos in the US to secure supply against the backdrop of tight market condition,” said Tate & Lyle.