The maker of food seasonings, cooking oils, foods, drinks, and pharmaceuticals has achieved an operating income of ¥28.5bn (€174m) in the six month period, which is a 3 per cent increase from the previous interim period. Its net sales were ¥609.6bn (€3.8bn), up 6 per cent on the previous year, and the net income was ¥13.9bn (€85m), representing a 3 per cent. International market Overseas food product sales increased 28.2 per cent to ¥76.8bn (€470m). Operating income increased 83.7 per cent to ¥8bn (€49m). Demand for amino acids for pharmaceuticals and foods increased substantially in Europe and grew steadily in North America, due in part to the favourable impact of foreign exchange fluctuations. Profits from the sales of Aji-no-moto for the food processing industry grew steadily in Asia and America, while in Europe they were maintained at the same level as in the previous interim period. Sales of sweeteners to the food processing industry were strong. In South America, sales of powdered juice Refresco Mid, which contains aspartame, increased considerably over the previous interim period. Domestic market Net sales in domestic food products increased 1.1 per cent to ¥315.1bn (€1.9bn). Operating income decreased 43.1 per cent to ¥6.6bn (€40m). In the domestic market, sales of Activa, an enzyme (transglutaminase) that improves food texture, for use in the food processing industry, grew steadily, and sales of savoury seasoning products increased slightly. Revenue from sales of unami seasoning Aji-no-moto to the Japanese food processing industry experienced a steady increase, while sales of amino acids for pharmaceuticals and foods decreased from the previous interim period. Looking to the future Ajinomoto's report said that rising energy prices due to crude oil prices, and rising prices of main and sub raw materials are raising production costs at its plants and serving as a major downward pressure on profits. Meanwhile, lower export competitiveness as a result from exchange rate fluctuations in overseas manufacturing bases and the slowdown in growth of the domestic foods market are having considerable influence on its related business. In such circumstances, the Ajinomoto Group is pursuing reform through innovation, R&D and production, with the aim to extensively reduce costs and strengthen the business structure. For the fiscal year ending 31 March 2008, Ajinomoto forecasts consolidated net sales of ¥1,225bn (€7.5bn), operating income of ¥75bn (€460m) and net income of ¥34bn (€208m).