United Natural Foods posted an increase in third quarter profit

United Natural Foods posted an increase in third quarter profit

United Natural Foods posted an increase in third-quarter income as the US distributor said it continued to see "strong demand" for its products.

The company today (2 June) that, for the quarter ended 30 April, net income was up 19.9% to US$423.4m.

Sales were up 22.1% to $1.2bn. However, excluding the impact of sales related to UNFI's acquisition of SunOpta's Canadian distribution operations last June - and purchase of some Whole Foods Market assets in October - net sales would have been up 12.4% to $1.11bn.

UNFI said gross margin increased 33 basis points to 18.2% against the second quarter. It attributed the improved margin to higher fuel surcharges, lower inventory adjustments and higher inbound freight expenses that it experienced in the second fiscal quarter of 2011 as it expedited deliveries to maintain service levels.

"During the quarter we continued to see strong demand for UNFI's products across our customer channels and delivered strong earnings growth despite tough comparisons versus the prior year and increasing fuel costs," said president and CEO Steven Spinner. "In particular, the independent channel had sales growth of 14%, reflecting our continued commitment to our largest group of customers. Excluding our acquisitions, the independent channel increased by 8%."