Convenience food manufacturer Uniq has blamed “a significant deterioration in economic conditions” in key markets after announcing flat third-quarter sales figures and warning that profits for the year will be down on 2007.

UK sales inched up by just 1.7% for the last three months – a slight improvement on the 0.5% growth achieved in the previous quarter.

In the UK, the impact of price increases was offset “by the need to drive volume through price discounting” the group said.

The picture was worse on the Continent, with sales down by almost 7% in France and Germany seeing a decline of 2%.

“The consumer response to [economic] conditions is affecting the mix of sales towards lower-added-value products and channels and towards price-discounted products,” the group said in a statement. “This has led to a disappointing margin performance. Sales for the third quarter to the end of September were in line with last year.”

The company added: “We expect the UK to deliver a trading profit in the second half, albeit at a much lower level than last year and still dependent on Christmas.”