US food giant HJ Heinz has reported a 33% rise in third-quarter net income, helped by the introduction of new products.

The company posted net income of US$202.2m, or 57 cents per share, for the third quarter to 28 January, compared with $151.6m, or 43 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Heinz said the prior year results include earnings of $21.8m, or 6 cents per share, from discontinued operations that were spun off and merged with Del Monte in December 2002.

Third-quarter sales were $2.10bn, compared to $2.11bn in the year-ago period, as favourable foreign exchange translation rates were offset by the impact of divestitures.

Heinz said its US foodservice business had recorded double-digit sales growth for the quarter, while the group’s North American sales had been boosted by strong sales of Heinz Ketchup and the launch of the company’s Smart Ones “Truth About Carbs” frozen entrees and Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fries. Heinz said its Ketchup tomato sauce had recorded double-digit volume growth in Europe.

CEO William Johnson said Heinz was on target to achieve its fiscal 2004 earnings forecast of between $2.19 and $2.21 per share.