Dole Food Co. narrowed its third-quarter loss year-over-year as stronger revenues offset a challenging period seen in its European market.

The company's revenues grew five percent to $2.09 billion but it posted a net loss of $47 million versus a loss of $49 million in the year-ago period.

Following very strong earnings in the first half of this year, we encountered a challenging market in Europe in the third quarter, as anticipated, said David A. DeLorenzo, Dole's president and CEO, in a company statement on Thursday.

For the quarter, Dole posted a comparable loss of $15 million, or 17 cents per share, compared with a comparable income of $3 million, or four cents per share, over the same period last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a loss of 10 cents per share on revenues of $2.02 billion.

The company said its packaged foods revenues increased nine percent to $366 million as higher sales and price increases across major product lines offset higher costs.

Fresh vegetables revenues remained relative flat at $327 million as better pricing for packaged salads offset lower operating results in fresh-packed vegetables, particularly in weak pricing, sales of iceberg lettuce.

Its fresh fruit sales increased five percent to $1.39 billion largely on higher banana volumes sold in North America and Asia and from favorable foreign currency exchange movements in Europe and Japan but results decreased on continued weakness in the European market and higher worldwide costs.

Given the positive results of the efficiency and cost measures we took last year, we are implementing additional restructuring initiatives focused on further improving our European profitability in 2012, said DeLorenzo.

In October, Dole acquired SunnyRidge Farm, which sells blueberries and other berries. DeLorenzo said he was pleased with the recent transaction.

Their premium fresh blueberry and blackberry operations are an excellent strategic complement to our existing fresh and frozen strawberry businesses, he said.

On the news, Dole shares fell 1.25 percent to 10.24 in the day's trading.