November 3, 2016 / 8:42 PM / 2 years ago

Kraft Heinz third-quarter sales dip 1.5 percent, below estimates

A Heinz Ketchup bottle sits between a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese and a bottle of Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce on a grocery store shelf in New York March 25, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O), the maker of Velveeta cheese, Heinz ketchup and Oscar Mayer meats, reported on Thursday quarterly sales fell 1.5 percent, as the company continues to cope with changing consumer tastes.

The world’s fifth largest food and beverage company has been forced to adjust its products as demand has shifted away from packaged foods and toward fresher items and those perceived to be healthier.

“While our financial performance is respectable, we continue to have the opportunity to improve our offerings,” Chief Executive Bernardo Hees said in a statement.

Kraft Heinz was formed after Kraft Foods Group merged with H.J. Heinz Co in July last year.

Adjusted net sales in the third quarter ended Oct. 2 fell to $6.27 billion from $6.36 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected sales of $6.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to shareholders was $842 million, or 69 cents per share. A year earlier, the company reported a loss of $168 million, or 14 cents per share, on a pro-forma basis, which assumes that the two companies were a single entity in both periods.

Excluding certain items, Kraft Heinz’s adjusted per-share earnings were 83 cents in the third quarter. Analysts had expected earnings of 75 cents.

Shares of Kraft Heinz slid 1.3 percent in after-hours trading.

As of Wednesday’s close, shares were up 12.6 percent from a year earlier. By comparison, ConAgra Foods (CAG.N) shares were up 16.4 percent over that period.

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Chris Reese

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