ConAgra Foods warned that full-year earnings may decline more than previously forecast due to higher costs at its cooking oil and Healthy Choice units.

Profit for the fiscal year ended May 2009 will come in "slightly above" US$1.50 a share - down from the company's June forecast of $1.56-$1.59 a share, ConAgra said in a statement today (18 September).

The company said that costs for raw materials, including corn and energy, rose 24% in the first quarter outpacing sales growth. Although ConAgra raised prices to offset these higher costs, it said it will increase marketing spend on frozen foods and other products.

First-quarter net income more than doubled to $442.4m, benefitting from the sale of its commodity-trading unit. Sales were up 17% to $3.07bn for the quarter.

ConAgra sold its commodity-trading unit in June Ospraie Management LLC for about $2.8bn.