Belgian convenience food group Ter Beke has reported a 16 per cent rise in net profits to €2.5 million for the first half, helped by the continued popularity of easy-to-prepare foods across the continent.
Sales for the six months to 30 June were up by almost 7 per cent to €95 million, and should rise even further in the second half following the acquisition of the French Di Pasto unit in July. Most of the sales growth came from the group's core business, chilled pasta meals, which accounts for 65 per cent of total group volumes.
Ter Beke is the leading supplier of chilled pasta meals in the Belgian market, and claims to be the main driver of growth in that market. However, the greatest growth is coming from international markets as the group pursues its rapid expansion programme.
The Come a Casa brand has been the focus of Ter Beke's marketing activity for the last year. The initial results of this marketing drive, which has included TV adverts in both Belgium and Ireland, have been encouraging, then company said, and a number of product extensions to the Come a casa range are planned for the second half, including pizza, couscous and paella.
Since the beginning of 2003, Ter Beke has been developing its presence in the out-of-home consumption market in the Benelux countries, the first time it has been active in this segment. Initial results here are also encouraging, Ter Beke said, though it is still too early to accurately assess whether to invest further in developing this activity.
The continued growth in chilled pasta sales, and its expansion into new markets, should help Ter Beke continue to grow volumes in the second half of the year, although it warned that a slight rise in raw material costs could have a small effect on profits for the year as whole. Nonetheless, profits are expected to be as much as 15 per cent higher than the €3.5 million registered in 2002.
Ter Beke operates from six production sites: five in Belgium, producing processed meats as well as the chilled pasta meals and one in France, acquired as part of the Di Pasto deal. The company, which is the leading supplier of fresh lasagna in Europe, markets its products under the brand names Come a Casa, L'Ardennaise, Pronto, Di Pasto, Daniël Coopman, Vamos and Les Nutons.