Vina Concha y Toro has reported a fall in operating profits for 2009, hit by consumers spending less on wine in the economic downturn.

Operating income fell by 11% to CLP44.6bn (US$84m) for the 12 months to the end of December, compared to CLP50bn in 2008, Concha y Toro said today (26 February).

Favourable currency rates added more than CLP8bn to the Chile-based wine firm's net earnings, helping it to report a 28% rise to CLP44bn, said the firm, which owns the Casillero del Diablo brand.

As previously reported, currency benefits also helped the group to a 12% rise in net sales to CLP353.5bn.

But, the headline net figure masked a decline in sales per bottle for the year, which also in turn forced Concha y Toro to take a CLP928m charge on wine inventories.

Operating income was hit by this charge, higher costs and "a change in the sales mix following the economic downturn in key markets", said the group.

In the fourth quarter of the year, export value sales rose by 3%, but exports rose by 14% in volume. Total fourth quarter sales rose by 6% to nearly CLP94bn.