UPDATE 2-Brazil's BRF posts 3rd qtr profit, slightly above forecast

(Adds detail on government’s cash aid, Halal market information)

SAO PAULO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazilian food processor BRF SA turned a third-quarter profit driven by a strong performance in its home market, slightly beating expectations, according to a securities filing on Monday.

BRF said it earned 218.7 million reais ($40.61 million), versus analysts’ average estimate of 203.15 million reais according to Refinitiv data.

Net revenue rose 17.5% to 9.9 billion reais, as the company increased the average price of its products. Sales volume of processed foods and meats rose 0.7% in the quarter, to a 1.1 million tonnes, it added.

BRF, the world’s largest chicken exporter, derived more than half its sales from Brazil, where net revenue rose almost 21%.

In Brazil, government cash payments to help the poor weather the pandemic boosted spending on food, allowing BRF to pass on higher grain prices to consumers. This partly offset higher feed prices and COVID-19 related expenses, it said.

Internationally, net revenue rose 13.5%, but production adjustments for the pandemic continued to affect operations. “As a result, gross profit and margins (were) squeezed,” BRF said of pandemic-related issues that weighed on its export business.

In the Halal market BRF posted sales of 173,000 tonnes, little changed from the year-ago period, as Saudi Arabia maintained import restrictions.

Higher grains costs and other dollar-denominated expenses also affected its exports’ profitability, the company added. ($1 = 5.3858 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano in Sao Paulo Editing by Chris Reese, Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang)