Strong sandwich sales and consumer demand for meal deals has helped Greencore to raise its operating profit by 31.8% to E25.9m (£22m) for the half year ended 26 March 2010.

Food to Go, its largest category business within its Convenience Foods division, has seen strong year-on-year sales as consumers "return to the food to go fixture", with ’meal deals’ of increased importance, said the firm in its interim results statement. Its sandwich volumes grew ahead of the market, up 7.4% for the 52 weeks to 21 March, compared to a total market increase of 6.4%.

The firm said its Cakes & Desserts business had a satisfactory first half in a difficult environment. "The market has been driven significantly by promotional activity which, although driving sales growth, has affected margins," said Greencore, adding that consumers have generally been trading down in the category and reducing the purchase frequency of premium lines.

Consultations regarding 100 potential job losses at Greencore Cakes & Desserts’ Hull plant are still in progress, following the loss of a major contract announced earlier this year.

Its Foodservice Desserts business, Ministry of Cake, achieved a solid first-half performance in a market that has been flat year-on-year, with the Christmas period providing a sales boost.

Group sales, from continuing operations, rose 2.1% to E434.5m, (£368.8m) with operating profit up 43% to E27. (£23.5m).