Italian food group Parmalat, has reported a 16% rise in its core profit for the eight months to 31 August, but sales fell to E2.78bn from E2.97bn the year before.

Pre-tax profit for the company rose to E152.7m from E116.2m last year. But despite this rise, its total debt also rose from E13.66bn on December 31 2003 to E14.04bn at the end of August this year.