Strong sandwich sales and consumer demand for meal deals has helped Greencore to up its operating profit by 31.8%, to €25.9m for the half year ended 26 March, 2010.

Food to Go, its largest category business with 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 an overall market increase of 6.4%.

Following the disposal of its Malt business, which was completed in March 2010, Convenience Foods represents over 90% of the group’s total sales and operating profit, with turnover from continuing operations up 6.1% to €397m.

The firm said its Cakes and 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 impacted margins,” commented Greencore, adding that consumers have generally been trading down in the category and reducing the purchase frequency of higher tier lines.

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 €434.5m, with operating profit up 43% to €27.7m.