Dutch food group Wessanen today (3 April) warned that its first-quarter profits would be “significantly lower” than in 2008 due to competition in North America and Europe.

The company, which sells brands including Dr Ritter muesli and Kallo rice cakes, blamed “competitive market conditions” around a number of its branded businesses for the expected drop in operating profit.

Wessanen said its first-quarter numbers – which are due to be published on 13 May – will also include “some incidental charges”.

Last year, Wessanen posted first-quarter operating profit of EUR12.4m (US$16.7m).

Wessanen said sales for the first three months of 2009 would be “broadly in line” with the revenue booked in the first quarter of 2008, which reached EUR384.6m.

The company declined to issue a forecast for full-year sales and earnings for 2009.

Officials at Wessanen could not be reached for immediate further comment.