Irish food and ingredients company Kerry Group is still on the deal-making trail after two years of continuous expansion through acquisition.

Posting a double digit rise in interim pre-tax profit, MD Hugh Friel said Kerry would continue to expand through a “busy pipeline of small to medium-sized acquisition targets”.

Although there were several targets in eastern Europe, there were also opportunities “closer to home”.

The first stage of a E14m investment to quadruple production of Cheestrings at Charleville in County Cork, is now under way, while a further E14m is being pumped into the Dublin factory of recent acquisition Freshways, which has made “excellent” progress on pre-packed sandwiches, bagels and wraps.

Pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30 was up 52% to E87.2m. Sales were flat at E1.8bn, impacted by the growing strength of the euro against sterling and the dollar.

However, underlying sales for the period were up 5.9%, “impressive by international standards” said Dublin-based analyst Goodbody.