Chiquita Brands International has swung to a profit in the third quarter of 2009, despite declining sales, as cost savings and pricing improved the bottom line.

The US produce company said that earnings totalled US$5m, or $0.11 per share, in the quarter ended 30 September, from a loss of $7m, or $0.16 a share, last year.

Excluding exceptional items, such as restructuring charges, Chiquita's earnings totalled $9m.

Revenue was down 5% in the quarter, dropping to $801m from $840m in the comparable period of last year. The decline was mainly the result of lower volumes as Chiquita adjusted its product mix to exclude unprofitable contracts.

The company reiterated that full year adjusted profit is expected to be "significantly" ahead of last year's EPS of $1.12.

Click here for the full press release and click here for Chiquita chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre's comments on the threat of private label.