Dutch food company Wessanen has said its third-quarter results are in line with its expectations and it is on track to meet its year-end goals.

Earnings per share for the third quarter rose from €0.01 to €0.08, with the company's return on sales up from 1.9% to 3.6%, owing to improved performance in most businesses.

Wessanen overall net sales (excluding GFG and Beckers Germany sales of €14m) decreased by 6% to €450.2m (US$529.4m). The company's North American Distribution business reported a better-than-expected sales performance and returned to profitability; sales in Europe were affected by the slow months of July and August.

"The results are fully in line with our expectations and reassure us that we will achieve our year-end targets," said CEO Ad Veenhof, adding that the main indicator for this is that the restructuring of its North American Distribution operations is beginning to bear fruit.

US sales exceeded expectations, which the company said indicates that the decrease in sales caused by deliberately terminated turnover and diminished low-carb sales is increasingly being compensated by new business and sales growth to existing customers.

In Europe, margins were close to the company's strategic targets for the end of 2007. Sales decreased €15m as a result of somewhat slow consumer retail spending during the summer period, but also because of a decline in out-of-home sales in the Benelux and competitive pressure in private label.

"On the upside, we are seeing innovations taking off, feeding our positive expectations for the fourth quarter as well as next year," Veenhof added.