Irish food manufacturer Kerry Group has reported strong interim results, which it said was due to an awareness of health and dietary issues.

Looking to health concerns provided positive stimulus for innovation across its ingredients, flavours and consumer foods business units, the company claimed.

Like-for-like sales for the half year ended June 30 were up 5.9%. Pre-tax profit increased from 57.3m euros last year to 87.2m euros during the same six-month period this year to June 30.

In the UK, the group made good progress in the prepared meals sector and also with its Walls’, Richmond and Mattessons branded ranges. However, it said “escalating costs and competitive pressures” in the poultry sector resulted in “difficult trading conditions” during the period.

In Ireland, the company reported cheese snacking, snacking, premium sliced meat and food-to-go sectors had done particularly well.

While the US and Canadian dairy and ice-cream industries struggled, the group said it focussed on meeting the evolving dietary requirements - in particular, no sugar added (NSA) foods and the premium ice-cream sector.