SunOpta has predicted a fall in first-quarter earnings after the company told the US share watchdog that its outstanding quarterly reports will be further delayed by an ongoing probe into its berry operations.

As previously disclosed, certain errors in the costing of inventory at its berry operations led the Canada-based firm to conclude quarterly reports issued throughout 2007 "should no longer be relied upon".

The company's audit committee has initiated an investigation into the accounting issues at SunOpta's berry operations and has retained independent legal counsel and accountants to assist in this matter.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SunOpta said it is delaying the quarterly report until it has completed the restatement process and it has completed its investigation.

SunOpta forecast a decline in net earnings for the first quarter, due in part to professional fees to deal with the ongoing investigation.

The company also expects lower earnings from its berry operations due to write-downs in the business.