Canadian food processor Maple Leaf Foods has reported a 13% rise in net earnings for the third quarter, but sales declined 5%.

The company posted net earnings of C$30.1m (US$25.7m) for the third quarter to 30 September compared to 26.7m a year earlier; however, earning per share were flat at 24 cents.

“Our third quarter operating earnings were up a modest 5% in the face of short term commodity market pressures, energy cost increases and significant merger activity,” said Michael McCain, president and chief executive officer.

“As a growth organisation, it’s hard to describe this marginal increase in earnings with great enthusiasm, but considering the many challenges we faced, we are broadly satisfied with our results. The fundamentals are strong, we continue to execute on our strategies and we are realising continued earnings growth in the value-added performance of our consumer products and fresh bakery business portfolio,” he added.

Sales for the third quarter decreased 5% to $1.6bn compared with $1.7bn for the prior year, due to lower commodity prices that affected the company’s pork, poultry, feed and rendering businesses.