MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – Low prices for hogs coupled with more investments in the company’s brands drove a 29 percent decline in net income at Maple Leaf Foods during the third quarter of fiscal 2018.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, the company reported net earnings of C$26.6 million, or C$0.21 per basic share, compared to C$37.6 million, or C$0.29 per basic share in the third quarter of 2017.

“Continued growth in value-added pork and poultry and plant protein was more than offset by adverse underlying market conditions, including heightened volatility in hog prices, and strategic investments in food renovation to support long-term growth and market leadership in the company’s major brands,” the company said. Changes in the fair value of biological assets and derivative contracts also impacted results, according to the company.

Sales for the third quarter slipped 3.7 percent to C$874.8 million. Maple Leaf Foods benefited from growth in its sustainable meat products, improved mix in branded prepared meats and increases in plant protein. “However, this positive performance was more than offset by lower fresh market values,” the company said.

For the first nine months, the company reported net earnings of C$89.4 million, or C$0.71 per basic share, compared to C$105.0 million, or C$0.81 per basic share. Sales for the first nine months eased 1.7 percent to C$2,601.6 million.

“It was a challenging period driven by temporary global trade instability, but our performance held up exceptionally well reflecting the strength of our balanced portfolio and commercial momentum in our business,” said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO. “These abnormal markets have no impact on our core business strategies or our longer-term financial goals. We are focused on key levers of value creation over time, including our sustainability agenda, our brands, strategic acquisitions and cost reduction.”

Adjusted operating earnings fell to C$51.0 million from C$65.2 million reported in the comparable year-ago quarter. “The impact of lower hog prices and strategic investments in food renovation supporting major brand strategies were partially offset by lower input costs in prepared meats, expansion in value-added pork and poultry, plant protein and improved sales mix in branded prepared meats,” the company explained.

During the third quarter, Maple Leaf closed its acquisition of Cericola and announced an agreement to acquire VIAU Foods which the company said will expand its position in premium fresh poultry and cured meats. The deal is valued at C$215.0 million before transaction fees, debt settlement and working capital adjustments.