Mark Allen, Dairy Crest's recently appointed chief executive, said: "We have a pipeline of product launches of healthier variants of some of our most popular pillar brands." His comments came as Dairy Crest announced a solid performance in 2006, and shows the dairy industry doing more to improve its public health image in the UK. Dairy Crest launched Cathedral City Lighter in February, a 30 per cent-less fat version of its successful cheddar brand. It followed that up with Country Life Spreadable Lighter this month, which is intended to rival its Lurpak counterpart from Arla Foods. And the group plans to roll out lighter versions of Utterly Butterly and Clover spreads later in the year. Allen's comments followed a 24 per cent in Dairy Crest's pre-tax profit to £80.5m, including exceptional items, during a year in which the group "significantly reshaped" its business with three major deals. One of those set to directly boost the group's health credentials was its takeover of French group Uniq, which owns the St Hubert spreads brand. St Hubert Omega 3 has been growing strongly in its home French market, and Allen said: "we are looking at operational and commercial opportunities between St Hubert and our existing UK spreads business." The Uniq deal completed a transition year for Dairy Crest, following the sale of its private label cheese business to First Milk and the takeover of Arla's doorstep milk delivery business, Express Dairies. Allen said: "These transactions are in line with Dairy Crest's strategy to invest in branded and added-value activities, maintain its position as the UK's leading doorstep delivery service and reduce the group's exposure to commodity markets." Key brands, including Cathedral City, Country Life Spreadable and Frijj, continued to drive Dairy Crest's sales, which rose 12 per cent to nearly £1.4bn for the full year.