South African poultry producer Astral Foods reported an operating profit of R675 million (US$85.1 million) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, up 15% from 2010's R585 million (US$73.8 million). 

The operating profit for the poultry division increased by 35%, to R353 million (US$44.5 million), from R262 million (US$33 million) in 2010. According to Astral, this was largely due to improvement in the cost of production through lower feeding costs and efficiency improvements across the board. The operating profit margin for the division improved to 6.3% from 2010's 4.9%.

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The feed division's operating profit rose slightly, to R282 million (US$35.6 million) from 2010's R281 million (US$35.4 million), resulting in a steady profit margin of 7%. A significant improvement in the turnaround performance of the division's Zambian and Mozambican operations contributed to the stability, according to the company.

Astral expects significant increases in poultry feed costs and record-high raw material input costs, along with current levels of poultry meat imports, to present challenges in the coming year. However, the company hopes that manageable local poultry stock levels and upward potential from poultry price levels will help to offset that, and plans to continue focusing on production and cost efficiencies where possible.