SkyPeople Fruit Juice, the US-listed drinks firm that operates in China, has forecast strong rises in both sales and profits for 2009 and expects more growth in the coming year.

Net sales are expected to come in between US$58m and $60m for the 12 months to the end of December, up by between 39% and 44% compared with 2008, SkyPeople Fruit Juice said in a trading update today (19 January).

Net profits for 2009 are thought to have risen faster, by up to 60% to around $16m.

The results will fuel optimism about a Chinese juice market already tipped for strong growth.

SkyPeople's share price rose by 23% to $6.77 following today's update.

The group attributed its success to higher sales of Hedetang fruit juice, as well as sales of fruit concentrate and fresh fruit to its growing list of China-based food and beverage distributors and manufacturers.

It predicted more rises in 2010, with sales expected to hit a range of $92m to $102m and profits to hit $19m to $21m.

SkyPeople is a holding company for Chinese firm Shaanxi Tianren, which produces concentrated apple, kiwifruit, pear and a branded consumer fruit juice.

The group recently confirmed to just-drinks that it was seeking extra funds from US-based investors.