Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated has posted a marked slide in profits for the first half of 2008.

The Coca-Cola bottler, which is the second largest in the US, said late last week that operating profit in the six-month period fell to US$39.9m from $53.0m in the corresponding period in 2007. Net profit dropped to $10.8m from $16.3m, despite a lift in sales to $733.7m from $728m.

For the second quarter, operating profit climbed to $36.2m from $32.5m, with net profit increasing to $15.2m from $11.7m. Sales, meanwhile, were up to $396m from $390.1m.

Company chairman and CEO, Frank Harrison III, said he was "pleased" with the company's second quarter performance, "especially considering the difficult cost and economic environment".

"While commodity costs continue to be extremely challenging, we have been able to offset some of these increased costs with a combination of operating expense reductions and price increases," Harrison said.

William Elmore, president and COO, added: "In the face of continued extraordinary raw material cost increases, we are working diligently to redesign our brand/package/channel pricing architecture as this is the key driver of both revenue and gross margin."

Elmore warned that the second half of the year would continue to be a "very challenging operating environment with the sluggish economy and increased commodity costs".

The results of a restructuring plan, announced earlier this year, are expected to be unveiled by the end of the third quarter, with the company expecting to incur a related expense of up to $5m.

"Difficult times, such as the current operating environment, make us work smarter and more efficiently and I believe we continue to position ourselves for long-term success," Harrison concluded.