Irish manufacturer Kerry Foods has shaken off sliding sales at its consumer foods division to post a marginal rise in first-half profits.

Underlying profits edged up from €132.8m to €136.8m in the six months to 30 June. That was despite sales at its consumer arm sliding almost 8% to €857m as shoppers continue to opt for own-label alternatives.

Its ingredients business fared better, although total sales at the maker of Mattessons, Cheestrings and Wall’s sausages still dropped by around 4% to €2.27bn.

Meanwhile, the group signalled plans to expand into Asia after chief executive Stan McCarthy said Kerry had a €250m war-chest for acquisitions in markets such as India.