LONDON --- Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., benefiting from a gain in sucralose sales, posted a companywide sales gain of 7%, reduced by 5% in constant currency, for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2009. Sales of £1,823 million ($3,026 million) compared to £1,698 million ($2,818 million) in the six-month period of the previous year.

Profit for the six-month period dropped to £46 million ($76 million), down from £65 million ($108 million) in the previous year.

"Tate & Lyle performed slightly ahead of our expectations in the first half of the year, before the impact of exchange translation, despite challenging conditions in a number of our markets," said Javed Ahmed, chief executive, when six-month results were announced Nov. 6. "We are encouraged by the good progress made in reducing net debt, reflecting the focus on reducing costs, optimizing work capital and reducing capital expenditure."

Net debt fell 20% to £987 million during the six months.

Six-month sales of Splenda sucralose reached £101 million, 29% ahead of last year (9% in constant currency). Six-month adjusted operating profit for the sweetener was £35 million, 17% above the comparative period (3% in constant currency). Underlying demand growth and customer restocking in the early part of the six-month period led to a 15% increase in sucralose volume.

Within Food & Industrial Ingredients, Americas, Tate & Lyle reported six-month sales of £939 million, up 16% from £811 million, and six-month adjusted operating profit of £94 million, down 14% from £109 million.

"At our Food & Industrial Ingredients businesses in the Americas and Europe, the order patterns of our food and beverage customers appear to have been re-established, albeit at slightly lower levels," Tate & Lyle said. "However, global industrial starch, U.S. ethanol and U.S. animal feed markets remain under pressure. We expect continuing underlying growth in sucralose and improved profits from sugars in the second half."