US food company ConAgra Foods has reported a 14% fall in quarterly earnings, after the company divested its fresh beef and pork operations.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company reported earnings of US$194.9m, or 37 cents a share, in the first quarter to 24 August, compared to $227.6m, or 43 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 38 cents a share, reported Reuters.

"Our first quarter is typically one of the lightest of our fiscal year, and, because of that and divestitures, we planned for this fiscal year's first-quarter sales and earnings to be below last year's," said ConAgra chief executive Bruce Rohde, adding that the company expects a solid earnings performance this year and next.

Sales fell to US$4.4bn, compared to $6.6bn a year earlier, due to the sale of businesses, including canned seafood and cheese units.

ConAgra, which makes Healthy Choice meals and Peter Pan peanut butter, has been gradually shifting its focus away from commodity-oriented businesses, and toward higher margin, branded foods.