Raisio has booked a drop in sales and earnings for the first nine months of the year.

The Benecol maker said today (4 November) that nine-month sales dropped to EUR376.1m (US$470.4m), down from EUR426.4m in the comparable period of last year.

EBIT fell to EUR25.9m, compared to EUR31m in the year-ago period. Operating margin fell to 6.9% of sales, down from 7.3%.

However, the group's operating performance trends have improved throughout successive quarters. In the third quarter, EBIT totalled ERU12.1m compared to EUR12m last year.

CEO Matti Rihko said: "The brands division's strong areas further improved their performance and our UK's cereals and snacks business returned to profit. Service level of the extended Newport snack bar factory has continued to improve but is still not at its normal level. Sales volume in Honey Monster cereals has levelled off after the earlier decrease. We are now on the right track but there is still much work to be done to achieve profitability levels and sales consistent with our objectives."

Despite growing optimism, Raisio forecast its EBIT for 2014 would remain below the level of 2013.