Multinational agrifood business Cargill has reported a 14% increase in profitability on marginally higher sales for the first quarter of its financial year.

The company made net earnings of $973 million on revenues of $27.3 billion in the three months to August 31st 2017, compared to $852m and $27.1bn in Q1 2016.

In the Animal Nutrition & Protein segment, overall feed sales were just short of the year ago period. Increased sales of feed additives and premixes were offset by poorer results for aqua feeds in Europe and pig feeds in Vietnam. However, the division was lifted by Cargill’s meat processing activities, particularly beef in North America, even though global poultry sales were down slightly year-on-year.

Cargill has acquired US feed manufacturer Southern States Co-operative, which is active in the south-eastern and eastern states. It has also formed a partnership with Delacon, the Austrian maker of phytogenic feed additives.

The company has invested in Memphis Meats, a Californian start-up developing ways to cultivate meat directly from animal cells. It believes cultured proteins have the potential to complement conventional meat in the race to feed a growing population sustainably.

The Origination & Processing segment saw strong performance in soya processing in Brazil and China, and exports from Brazil. But, “although global demand for grain and oilseeds continues to grow, rising production and building global stocks during the last four crop cycles has depressed market volatility and commodity prices”.

 “We’re off to a good start in our new fiscal year, powered by the significant work we’ve done over the last few years and continuing to accelerate our performance,” says Cargill chairman and chief executive David MacLennan. “Even as market conditions vary across our sectors, our teams are delivering for our customers and achieving results to fuel future growth.”