US snack cake maker Tasty Baking has reported a net loss of US$1.4m, or 18 cents a share, for the third quarter to 27 September, compared to a net loss of $0.4m, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier.

Gross sales were down 4% to $60.8m, while net sales declined 3% to $38.9m.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company said increased marketing spending and expansion of the direct store delivery system into the Cleveland and Pittsburgh markets resulted in incremental pre-tax expense of $2m compared to the third quarter of the prior year.

“Our primary focus since arriving at Tasty Baking Company has been to position the company for long term growth. We are executing our transformation plan by increasing our investment in the Tastykake brand, entering new markets with our direct store delivery system, delivering product innovation and building the foundation for improved productivity and efficiency,” said Charles P. Pizzi, president and chief executive officer of Tasty Baking.

“There is renewed energy throughout our organisation. We continue to have a sense of urgency as we execute our transformation plan and are confident that this strategy will positively impact the company’s sales and earnings beginning in 2004,” Pizzi concluded.