Noble Foods, the nation's biggest egg supplier, is gearing up for new acquisitions to increase its market share outside eggs.

The news comes as financial results filed last week at Companies House for the year to 30 September 2009 showed turnover had increased 14% to £533.5m and pre-tax profits were up 16.5% to £21.7m.

In their report to the ­accounts, the company's directors revealed Noble was eyeing up opportunities in non-egg sectors in the wake of its acquisitions of majority interests in ­premium dessert brand Gü in January and Didier's Patisserie in March.

In April, Noble had secured an option to acquire an interest in an unnamed "food business", the ­accounts revealed.

"We will continue to review the possibilities for further diversifying group activities," the directors said, adding that the company would use a new three-year banking facility with Lloyds TSB "to fund both our colony investment and acquisitions".

The insight into Noble's plans come as the directors predicted a challenging year ahead for eggs as a result of increased competition and impending legislation concerning the welfare of laying hens on 1 January 2012 it will be illegal to produce eggs in traditional cage systems in the UK, and only 'colony' cage systems will be allowed.

In a bid to become more competitive, Noble was improving supply chain efficiencies by investing in automation at its Thornton and North Scarle packing centres. It was also investing £35m in ensuring it could meet retailers' ­demand for eggs from ­colony systems.

The Happy Egg Co brand which had a retail value of circa £35m provided evidence of Noble's significant investment in brand development, according to the directors.

Noble has previously announced its intention is to diversify into "value-added fresh food categories with attractive growth potential". Its first major move came in August 2008 when it purchased Serious Desserts.