US natural food distributor United Natural Foods has said is expects to report revenues of US$1.9bn to $2.0bn for the fiscal year to 31 July 2005, representing growth of around 17-22% over fiscal 2004.

The company said it expects earnings per diluted share, excluding potential special items, in the range of 93 to 97 cents per share, or a 25-26% increase over fiscal 2004. United Natural Foods said the guidance reflects continued improvements in operating margins, but also a negative financial impact related to increased medical costs, which reduces earnings per share by approximately 2 cents.

Special items may include labour, moving and other costs related to the expansion of the company’s distribution facilities.

“We are benefiting from favourable trends in the natural products industry and we will look to take advantage of historically low interest rates by scheduling several capital projects that reflect the ongoing strength in the growth of our business,” said chief executive Steven Townsend.