Finnish food group Atria today (6 May) reported a larger-than-expected fall in first-quarter profits, which were dented by increasing raw materials costs.

Atria warned last month that its 2008 operating profit would fall year-on-year as it was unable to pass higher raw material prices to consumers.

Atria’s operating profit for the three months to the end of March fell to EUR6.8m (US$10.6m), down from EUR11.5m a year ago.

Atria’s sales, however, rose to EUR303.4m, up from EUR276m.

The company said it expects 2008 sales to grow year-on-year, but added the market would remain challenging.

“The imbalance in the price of pork between Finland and the rest of Europe will increase uncertainty over the performance in Finland in the remaining part of 2008,” the company said.