East Anglia:

SUGAR sales from its Chinese and Spanish businesses helped sweeten food giant Associated British Foods’ revenues this year with profits in that sector for the full year expected to be well ahead of last year.

The group, whose subsidiaries include British Sugar, saw strong improvements in the two countries off-set an absence of sugar export sales from the UK and the impact of a sugar beet crop shortfall due to frost.

ABF, which issued a pre-close period trading update yesterday prior to announcing its full-year results to September 17 in November, said its overall operating profit for the second half of the year was in line with expectations, although commodity prices helped push its debt up to around �1.2bn.

Its agricultural revenues were ahead in all sectors, driven by high commodity prices. UK feed sales and profits were up, with sales of pig starter feeds doing particularly well in Eastern Europe and Russia. Volatile wheat prices also helped to create “exceptional grain trading opportunities”, it said.

Sales at subsidiary Primark were well ahead of last year and expected to be up 13%.