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Israeli food firm Strauss Q4 profit rises

TEL AVIV, March 26 (Reuters) - Net profit at Israeli food and drinks company Strauss Group rose in the fourth quarter, boosted by higher sales at its dips and spreads joint venture with PepsiCo as well as cost cutting measures.

Strauss on Wednesday posted quarterly adjusted net income of 70 million shekels ($20.1 million), up from 68 million a year earlier as sales fell 1.4 percent to 2.07 billion shekels. Organic sales growth excluding exchange rate effects was 5.4 percent.

Strauss, a maker of snacks, fresh foods and coffee, is a market leader in roast and ground coffee in central and eastern Europe and Brazil. It is the second-largest company in the Israeli food and beverage market.

Global coffee sales fell 10.3 percent to 1.0 billion shekels.

Sales at its international dips and spreads joint venture half-owned by PepsiCo - gained 6.3 percent in the quarter to 148 million shekels.

Chief Executive Gadi Lesin said that in 2013 the company focused on cost management and growth while increasing investments in streamlining the supply chain and in innovation.

"This approach has consolidated the group's strength and has improved our ability to continue to successfully contend with the challenges that lie ahead in 2014," he said.

($1 = 3.4844 Israeli Shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen)