(Reuters) - British food ingredients maker Tate & Lyle Plc said it remained on track to deliver full-year profit growth in line with guidance after sales volumes picked up pace in the three months to December.
The company, which sells corn syrup and other ingredients to food and drink makers, said decisions taken to invest in the longer term development of its speciality ingredient business in the first half of the year ending March 2018 would moderate profit growth in the second half.
In recent years, Tate has been focusing more on speciality food ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and texturants like starch and gums, which carry higher margins than its much larger and more commoditised business of bulk ingredients.
Tate said sales volume growth accelerated in both its speciality food ingredients and bulk ingredients divisions in the final three-month period of last year.
Tate, which produces high-fructose corn syrup sweeteners for soft drinks in the United States and also exports to Mexico, said sweetener volume in North America grew in the three-month period and profit growth is expected to be "robust" for the full-year.
Tate's shares have come under pressure amid the uncertainty over the future trading relationship between the United States and Mexico, which could impact Tate's sales to Mexican soda makers.
(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)