US food maker General Mills has reported lower net earnings for the third quarter, but said operating profits were higher.

The company reported net earnings of US$230m, or 58 cents per share, for the third quarter to 27 February, compared to $242m, or 60 cents per share, for the year-ago period. Net sales edged up to $2.77bn from $2.70bn a year earlier.

General Mills said its earnings were hit as it recorded a portion of the taxes relating to the recent disposal of its interest in the Snack Ventures Europe (SVE) joint venture.

"We were pleased to see profit growth in all three of our business segments for the third quarter. In total, operating profits rose 6%. We also achieved strong double-digit earnings growth from joint ventures," said chairman and CEO Steve Sanger.