Maple Leaf Foods Inc. reported a net earnings increase to $30.2 million for the fourth quarter 2010, compared to $21.9 million for the same time in 2009, but a 9% decrease in overall sales to $1.21 billion compared to 2009's $1.33 billion.

Sales for the year were also down, from 2009's $5.2 billion to 2010's $4.97 billion. Adjusted operating earnings in the meat products group for the fourth quarter increased 63% to $39.5 million compared to $24.2 million last year, driven by strong performance in fresh pork processing operations due to improved pork pricing spreads, but earnings were offset by a decline in prepared meat results.


"Maple Leaf Foods delivered strong earnings growth in the fourth quarter, despite a sharp increase in raw material prices," said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO. "These results reflect the benefits of cost reductions and price increases intended to help us keep pace with global food inflation, and some early benefits from the initial execution of our strategic plan. We expect the progress we are making in reducing our cost structure, simplifying our product lines and streamlining our operations will contribute to earnings throughout 2011."