Northern Foods has posted underlying growth of 3% for the past three months, despite a dip in overall volumes of 0.8%.

The ready meals manufacturer said overall sales were up by just 0.5% for the 13 weeks to 27 December as the company continues to feel the effects of the closure of its Fenland Foods plant last year.

Its chilled division showed underlying growth of 5.3% for the quarter, although revenue in frozen was static after a 7% drop in volumes.

“Our key Christmas trading period has been delivered effectively and we continue to respond to the recessionary environment with new value ranges alongside our traditional premium products,” said chief executive Stefan Barden.

“Northern Foods is now a different company than two years ago; it is both financially and operationally stronger. Whilst we share the market uncertainty over consumer spending going forward into 2009, this seems to be less pronounced in food than other sectors. We remain confident of maintaining our steady progress and meeting current market expectations for the full financial year.”