The company reported a 90.1% drop in net earnings for its third-quarter

The company reported a 90.1% drop in net earnings for its third-quarter

Canadian natural and organic food maker SunOpta has posted a fall in third-quarter profits, on the back of higher commodity costs, especially in the sunflower segment.

For the three months ended 1 October, the company reported a 90.1% drop in net earnings, slumping to US$3.4m. SunOpta president and chief executive Steve Bromley said profits were impacted by the "difficult commodity environment", particularly in the sunflower segment.

However, earnings from continuing operations before income taxes were up to $5.3m during the period, compared to a loss of $594,000 last year.

The group posted a 25.3% increase in net sales, to $272.4m for the three-month period. The company said the increase reflects continued growth in the natural and organic foods sectors. Revenues increased 14.6% excluding the impact of acquisitions completed during 2010 and 2011.

For the nine months ended 1 October, net earnings dropped 78.3% to $12.8m. However, earnings from continuing operations before income taxes surged 58.5%, reaching $23.9m. Revenues were up 23.3% reaching $823.6m for the period.

Bromley remained confident about the company's future. He said: "We continue to be very confident in our strategy and are encouraged by the number of new initiatives and opportunities in the pipeline.

"We are focused on expanding our business in fast growing healthy foods categories while at the same time improving operating margins and returns on assets employed. We believe we are well positioned in the natural and organic foods sector and are confident in our future prospects."