O-I described the first half of the year as one of the most challenging in decades – but said business has started to improve.

The world’s largest container glass manufacturer said it endured the brunt of the Covid-19 impact in April and May but has seen sales increase substantially since then as markets reopened.

Andres Lopez, CEO, said: “The first half of 2020 was the most challenging business environment in decades given the sudden onset of the pandemic. However, the second quarter ended on a positive note.”

In the company’s second quarter financial report, released in early August, the group said it remains on track with its generation 1 Magma installation in early 2021 with broader development starting in 2022.

June sales volumes were down 3% from the prior year, which compared favourably to the 18% decline in daily shipment levels during the April and May period.

Net sales in the second quarter of 2020 were $1.4 billion, compared to $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019.

Operating profit was $95 million in the quarter, compared with $236 million in the same period of 2019.

Production levels were down approximately 20% from the second quarter of 2019, which reflects required production reduction to comply with government rules to manage the pandemic, including lock downs in Mexico and the Andean countries.

Cash provided by continuing operations in the second quarter 2020 was $181 million compared to cash utilised in continuing operations in the second quarter 2019 of $67 million.

Its full year sales volume outlook is a 4 to 7% decline compared to the previous year which is an improvement from the company’s prior outlook of a 5 to 10% decline.