Juice maker Del Monte Pacific ltd has announced that its group turnover rose 5% to US$84.7m in the first half compared to the same period last year, despite level sales volumes. Profit before interest and taxes (PBIT) was up 6% to US$13.6m, while net profit increased 15% to US$13.3m, compared to last year.

"In an extremely challenging business and competitive environment, we are pleased to have sustained the positive momentum started in the second half of 2001. Importantly we are gratified by the progressive increase in contribution from our value-added strategy," Tony Chew, the company's chairman, said.

In a statement the company said that the turnover increase in the period was due to higher volume in Asia and improved pricing of processed and beverage products in Europe and North America.

Del Monte said it expected the economic and business environment to "remain challenging". However, it said it expected "firm pricing, improved product supply and the progressive effect of our value added strategy to counter the impact of stiffer competition and higher costs".

Overall the group expects to achieve a moderate improvement in net profit for the full year versus 2001.