SÃO PAULO, Brazil – First quarter earnings for Brasil Foods declined sharply on weakening poultry demand in Asia and the Middle East, according to the company’s earnings statement which was released April 27 after markets closed.

Net income slipped to R$153 million ($81 million), from R$383 million in the comparable year-ago period. EBITDA for the quarter slumped to R$532 million from R$816 million in the first quarter of 2011. Profits from chicken and turkey exports retreated after shipments to the Middle East and Japan declined while feed prices continued to rise.

“The company’s results reflected the challenging scenario in the export market, as has already been observed in the fourth quarter of 2011,” Brasil Foods said in a statement. “Some key markets such as Japan and the Middle East continued to suffer from a process of adjustment and running down of levels of inventory and merchandise flows.”

Sales for the company grew 11 percent to R$3 billion, the company said. The foodservice segment also performed well, posting an increase of 10.4 percent in net sales. The company released 11 products during the first quarter, a savory snacks line, a grill line and rotisserie products.