(Aug. 13, 11:25 a.m.) Sysco Corp.’s fourth-quarter sales reached nearly $10 billion, up 5.4% from the year-ago period.

The Houston-based foodservice company reported Aug. 11 that operating income increased 9.7% to $559 million during the quarter, and earnings per share increased 12.2% to 55 cents.

It was the eighth consecutive quarter that Sysco reported double-digit growth in earnings per share. For the fiscal year, the company reported earnings per share increased 13.1% to $1.81.

The company estimated that food cost inflation was 6% for the year and 6.2% in the fourth quarter.

Chief executive officer Richard Schnieders said during a conference call that the weak economy and high freight costs had created a “challenging environment” for his customers.

“Generally our customer base tends to be a high quality customer base,” he said. “Our customers have been in business for a long time, and we anticipate that they’ll weather this storm.”

For the fiscal year, Sysco reported that sales increased 7.1% to $37.5 billion, and operating income increased 10% to $1.9 billion.