US food manufacturer Land O’Lakes posted US$7.3m net earnings for the third quarter, against a $4.3m loss in the same quarter last year.

For the third quarter ended 30 September, net sales reached $2.37bn, up on the $2.18bn in the same quarter of last year.

“On a company-wide basis, we’re taking steps to reduce costs and invest in activities that have the greatest potential to deliver an outstanding return. These actions are fundamental to good business, and they’re enabling us to manage through the difficult economic environment, which has particularly impacted our feed and industrial foods businesses,” said CEO Chris Policinski.

However, the company said that year-to-date earnings were down on 2009’s numbers due to a “combination of factors”, such as the challenging economy, the impact of unrealised hedging, rebate timing and one-time charges.

For the nine-month period, sales were up 5.7% to $8.39bn.

Net earnings were $103.6m for the first nine months, against $159.8m in the same period of the previous year. However, excluding the impact of unrealised hedging, the timing of the recognition of agronomy vendor rebates, and a first-quarter charge related to a legal settlement, year to date earnings were up $5.7m on the previous year.