US-based meat processor Swift. has reported a 7% drop in third-quarter sales due largely to a dip in production after December's immigration raids at six plants.

Swift, which has operations across the US, said yesterday (10 April) that net sales fell by 6.9% to US$2.1bn during the three months to 25 February.

Some 1,300 Swift employees were rounded up in December after US immigration chiefs suspected illegal immigrants from Latin America were working at the company.

Swift president and CEO Sam Rovit said the US government had not charged the company or any former employees in connection with the immigrant worker investigation. "Nor do we have any reason to believe there will be in the future," Rovit said.

The company saw third-quarter losses narrow on the year thanks to an improved performance from its beef operations in the US. Swift made a quarterly loss of $9m, down from $21m a year earlier.

Rovit admitted the raids had hit earnings from Swift's US beef and pork business. However, he added: "Our pork business returned to normal production levels in March and our beef business is expected to do so by summer."

Swift, which is the largest beef processor in Australia, saw sales from its business in the country rise by 14%. Earnings in Australia doubled to $12m.