Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. has reported a net loss of $875 million in the third quarter of 2009.

The loss is due to a $1 billion write-down for the retail chain’s struggling Ralph’s franchise in Southern California, according to a company news release.

In the third quarter of 2008, Kroger’s net earnings totaled $238 million.

“The operating environment we saw during the third quarter was more challenging than we anticipated, obscuring some otherwise strong fundamentals in our performance,” Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, David Dillon, said in the release. “In the near term, our financial results are being pressured by factors including persistent deflation, unusually intense competition and the cautious mindset of customers.”

Kroger, the second-largest food retailer behind Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also suffered a $1.35-per-share loss in the third quarter.

Price wars with Wal-Mart and other retailers were cited as reasons for the big loss, according to several news stories.