Food giant Kerry Group said the appetite of Britons for prepared meals had helped to deliver another year of profits and sales growth.
Kerry, which makes Mattessons and Wall's sausages, reported a 3.4 per cent rise in like-for-like sales during the first six months of this year as it benefited from the growing demand in the UK for premium ready meals.
The improvement also lifted its food ingredients businesses, which accounts for two-thirds of revenues, while Kerry said the division was boosted by fast food chains emphasising healthier foods.
In its consumer foods business, Britons looking to eat on the go also ensured a successful launch for Brunchettas at the end of last year, while Cheestrings gained market share in the UK.
Kerry, which is based at Tralee in Ireland, said the performance of its portfolio of brands ensured it overcame the surge in energy costs to record levels and higher raw material prices.
In line with other food and flavouring makers, Kerry said the trading environment was challenging in Europe and in the US had not fully recovered from the end to the low-carb craze and hype surrounding the Atkins diet.
Kerry said trading profits for the six months to June 30 were 6.2 per cent higher than a year ago at 160 million euros (£109 million) on the back of 2.12 billion euros (£1.44 billion) of sales.
The results come three weeks after Kerry paid £124 million for the Indian food firm started by spice king Sir Gulam Noon in 1989.
That deal strengthened Kerry's position in the ready meals sector as Noon Group supplies supermarkets such as Morrisons and Sainsbury's with curries.
Chairman Denis Buckley said the ongoing consolidation in the ingredients and foods sector should provide further opportunities for Kerry to acquire rival businesses.
In addition to Mattessons and Wall's, Kerry counts Homepride flour, Porkinson's sausages and Mr Brain's faggots among its portfolio of brands.
"Our UK and Irish foods brands and customer-branded offerings are well positioned in industry growth segments," Mr Buckley said.
"The group expects further business improvement in the second half, with an outcome for the full year in line with market expectations."
In its biggest divisions, Kerry said sales of food ingredients totalled 1.45 billion euros (£990 million) and were 3.8 per cent higher than a year ago on a like-for-like basis.
Its consumer foods businesses generated revenues of 820 million euros (£558.7 million) - up 3.1 per cent after stripping out the impact of currency swings.
"The absolute growth we wouldn't consider to be exciting but we think we've done pretty well in compensating for the impact of currencies and input prices, in particular energy," said chief financial officer Brian Mehigan.