MACQUARIE PARK, AUSTRALIA — Goodman Fielder Ltd., Australia’s largest food manufacturer, posted profit after tax for the fiscal year ended June 30 of A$177.1 million ($149.1 million), up sharply from A$27.7 million in fiscal 2008.

Net sales rose 7% to A$2,848.6 million ($2,398.7 million) from A$2,675.4 million.

"The company has successfully weathered the effects of the last three years of record high agricultural commodity pricing," the company said. "Input costs are now reducing and the company was able to improve gross margins in the second half and exit the year in a strong position.

"Significant items in the result include the profit on sale of two small non-core brands in New Zealand and profit from the sale of several manufacturing sites under our sale and lease-back program, offset by some restructuring costs."

Goodman Fielder said its fresh baking business posted EBITDA during fiscal 2009 of A$133.6 million ($112.4 million), down 6% from A$142.5 million in the same period of fiscal 2008. Sales in the baking business, meanwhile, eased 1.1% to A$983.9 million ($827.8 million).

"The company’s fresh baking business has successfully retained three supermarket private label bread supply contracts and, following the successful national launch of the Lawson’s premium brand, launched a new Helga’s value-added variant in N.S.W.," the company said. "In New Zealand, a new artisan par-baked frozen product was launched under the Freya’s brand."

In May, Goodman Fielder said it was shifting its strategic direction and increasing its focus on the manufacturing and marketing of branded everyday foods. In doing so, the company is exploring options for the divestment of its commercial edible fats and oils business.