Vitasoy International Holdings has posted a 67.15 per cent increase in its six-month net profit to HK$79.51 million as operational efficiency increased and marketing expenses declined. Winston Lo Yau-lai, chairman of the non-carbonated drinks manufacturer, said: 'Sales in most markets registered positive growth, boosted by the introduction of new products with new tastes and value packaging.' Turnover to September saw a modest growth to HK$1.15 billion from HK$1.1 billion for the same period in the previous year. Earnings per share was 8.2 HK cents, up from 4.9 HK cents. The result was also partly helped by the sale of its associate Sodexho (Hong Kong) for HK$14 million, yielding a HK$2.48 million gain. Mr Lo said it recorded healthy sales growth of 7.5 per cent in Hong Kong, despite the weak consumer environment and solid competition. The local market remained the group's key focus as it accounted for 90 per cent of the group's operating profits. Like other foreign players, Vitasoy is making a concerted push into the vast but competitive non-carbonated drinks market. Vitasoy saw 12.7 per cent sales growth in China, while operating profit rose 9.6 per cent to HK$36 million. To improve the operational efficiency of its two mainland plants, the company would help a Shanghai-based dairy to produce milk goods, Mr Lo said. The revenue from the co-operation would reduce the loss made in eastern China, where its brand was not as popular as in southern China. Profits in North America saw a loss of HK$12.88 million, against the loss of HK$25.55 million over the same period previously. Vitasoy declared an interim dividend of 2.8 HK cents, unchanged from the same period in the preceding year.