Sara Lee Corporation announced last week that its international bakery sales were up 7.8% and its North American retail bakery sales were up 6.8% for the 12-month period ending 30 June, 2007.

The company revealed in a statement that North American retail bakery performed well, due to increased prices, procurement and other improvements in savings, despite higher commodity and labour costs. Sara Lee Bakery makes products such as bread, bagels, chilled desserts, muffins and pies.

The company said the Sara Lee brand maintained its position as the number one fresh bakery brand in America, with a 7.9% share according to IRI share data (12 weeks ending July 1, 2007). "We achieved higher sales in every business segment and improved the overall profitability of the company during the year," said Brenda Barnes, chairman and CEO of Sara Lee Corporation.

Its international bakery sector saw sales increase 11.2% to $205 million in the fourth quarter of the 12-month period ending 30 June. For example, the Bimbo brand belongs to the Sara Lee Corporation and is a market leader in the Spanish bakery market for bread, buns and pastisserie products.

Growth in the Spanish fresh bakery business and the European refrigerated dough business was partially offset by declines in the fourth quarter in the Australian business, according to the company. Favourable foreign currency exchange rates, higher unit volumes and price increases were offset by increases in commodity and other input costs.