Once again, a raft of third quarter results stories caught your eye on just-food this week.

It was a particularly bad week for M&S, who revealed that the weak economy has caused a 34% drop in profits. Nevertheless, CEO Sir Stuart Rose remained upbeat, insisting that the company's positioning as a "quality foods" retailer was appropriate and emphasising its ability to compete on price with the likes of Waitrose.

On the flip side, Associated British Foods reported a set of strong third quarter results, with a jump in sales and earnings boosted by its grocery business. As too did Tate & Lyle who reported "sound" first-half sales and profit growth.

Things are also looking up for PepsiCo who unveiled a US$1bn investment package for expansion in the Chinese market, while Belgium baker Lotus snapped up Swedish biscuit maker Anna's in a deal worth SEK164m (US$21m).

One sector that is well-positioned to withstand the economic downturn is the premium chocolate market, which is poised for further growth.

Here are the top ten most-read stories on just-food this week.

UK: Grocery helps drive ABF profits
A jump in sales and earnings from its grocery business has driven rising annual profits at Associated British Foods, the UK food group said today (4 November).

US: Nestle withdraws Farinha Lactea cereal
Nestle is withdrawing its branded Farinha Lactea cereal in the US because it may contain trace amounts of a pesticide not currently approved for use on wheat in the market.

Premium chocolate set to grow despite tough times
The premium chocolate market has grown significantly in recent years and a new report from just-food forecasts that this growth will continue, in spite of the economic downturn. Ben Cooper reports.

UK: Profits tumble at M&S
Marks and Spencer, the UK retailer, said this morning (4 November) that half-year profits tumbled 34% as the weak economy hit the business.

AUS: Woolworths begins unit pricing roll-out
Australia's largest supermarket Woolworths has begun a national roll-out of comparative unit pricing making it the first national grocery retailer in Australia to display both the actual and unit price on its labels.

UK: Tate & Lyle upbeat as profits rise
UK ingredients company Tate & Lyle said today (6 November) that it is "well positioned" to face the global economic slowdown, reporting "sound" first-half sales and profit growth.

US: Sara Lee in share buyback U-turn
US food giant Sara Lee Corp. has reversed its decision to suspend its share buyback programme just a day after it said it would postpone repurchases.

BELGIUM: Lotus buys Swedish biscuit maker Anna's
Belgium-based Lotus Bakeries has snapped up Swedish biscuit maker Annas Pepparkakor Holding from private equity firm Accent Equity in a deal worth an initial SEK164m (US$21m).

US: Fonterra opens Chicago R&D centre
Fonterra has invested US$2.4m to open a new research and development centre in Chicago, Illinois.

CHINA: PepsiCo announces investment plans
US food giant PepsiCo has unveiled an investment package that will see it spend US$1bn in the Chinese market over the next four years.