US-based soup-to-sauce maker TreeHouse Foods posted a significant rise in first-quarter profit today (8 May) and raised its full-year outlook for 2009.

Net income for the three months ended 31 March totalled US$12.7m compared to $2.1m last year, driven by good performances in its North American retail grocery business.

“We finished the quarter with sales growth in local currencies, margin improvement and lower operating costs,” said chairman and CEO Sam Reed. “While our sales growth was constrained by challenges in the food away from home industry, our retail grocery segment in particular performed well across a broad array of product categories.”

Net sales edged up to $355.4m from $360.6m last year. Excluding currency effects, sales would have increased by 2.2%. Retail grocery sales increased 5% despite currency pressures as private label continued to realise share gains across most of the company’s retail categories.

Operating income also increased, reaching $26.6m from $12.1m in the comparable period of 2008.

Based on a view that retail private label will “continue to perform well”, the company raised its previously issued guidance of $1.80 to $1.85 in adjusted earnings per share for 2009 to $1.82 to $1.87.