Higher profitability in drinks went some way to offset milk supply shortages at Wimm-Bill-Dann in the first half of 2010.

The Russian firm this week reported a 14% rise in drinks sales for the six months to the end of June, to US$239.7m. "Positive sales dynamics were driven primarily by solid volume growth and positive exchange rate effect," WBD said.

Group net sales rose by 17% on the same period of 2009, to $1.2bn, although this represented a 6% in Russian Ruble currency.

“Our performance continues to be strong, with significant improvements in market share across our dairy, beverages, and baby food segments, as demand restores back to levels we have not seen since before the global economic crisis,” said Tony Maher, Wimm-Bill-Dann’s CEO.

Although sales also rose strongly in both Wimm-Bill-Dann's dairy and babyfood businesses, only beverages reported an increase in gross profit margins, up by 5% on the same period of 2009.

The group's profitability suffered, however, due to higher milk prices. Operating profits fell by 5% for the half-year, to $105.8m. Net earnings, though, rose by 7% to $69.5m, boosted by a more favourable exchange rate and lower financial costs.

Net sales in Russian Rubles currency increased by 6% on the first half of 2009.