US natural food distributor United Natural Foods has posted a 9% rise in quarterly profit, helped by a rise in sales.

The Connecticut-based company reported net income of US$5.8m for the fiscal third quarter to 30 April, compared with $5.3m for the year-ago period.

Excluding special items, the company posted net income of $6.2m for the quarter.

United Natural Foods’ net sales rose 21% to $363.6m. Mass market sales rose 21% in the third quarter, while sales to independent distribution channels rose 38%, reported Reuters.

The company has forecast fiscal year 2003 earnings to be between $1.18 and $1.20 per share, with sales up 15-19% in the fourth quarter.