Improved prices for bulk cream and volume gains on fresh milk have boosted profits at Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest.

Robert Wiseman this week announced a 59.9% uplift in pre-tax profits to £49.2m for the year to 3 April. It also reported a 9.1% increase in fresh milk volumes taking its total share to 1.77 billion litres.

Dairy Crest, meanwhile, posted a 5% increase in adjusted pre-tax profits to £83.5m for the year to 31 March. Unadjusted profits fell 25% to £77.8m as a result of an exceptional gain made on the sale of its Yoplait stake last year.

Robert Wiseman chairman Alan Wiseman said profits had benefited from volatility in bulk cream prices. "These improved significantly in the second half-year and helped us exceed our previous profit estimates for the year," he said, adding that the 9.1% increase in volumes represented the largest annual volume increase achieved by the group.

Dairy Crest said its milk volumes to major retailers had grown by 9% over the year although total volumes had remained flat.

Chairman Anthony Fry attributed much of the group's success to a strong performance from the group's dairies division, in which operating profit had grown from £7.9m in 2009 to £34.9m in 2010. "It has bounced back from a difficult 2008/09 and is benefiting from a series of efficiency projects and higher cream prices," he said.

Sales of its key brands Cathedral City, Country Life, St Hubert Omega 3, Clover and Frijj had increased 13% by volume and 9% by value. However, the company admitted profits within its spreads and cheese division had been dented by increased promotional and marketing expenditure.

Wiseman and Dairy Crest said they were committed to pumping further investment into their infrastructure and supply chains. Wiseman said it planned to spend £8m on doubling its processing and filling capacity for filtered milk and Dairy Crest reiterated its plan to invest £75m in its dairies.