US sugar refiner Imperial Sugar has reported lower quarterly losses after the company's costs fell year-on-year.

Imperial posted a net loss of US$3.5m for the first quarter of its new financial year, compared to $8.9m a year earlier.

The company's margins were down year-on-year but increased compared to the previous quarter, president and CEO John Sheptor said.

"Imperial's results continue to be affected by the margin compression experienced in the second half of last fiscal year, driven by high raw sugar prices and competitive pricing dynamics, although we were able to increase prices during the quarter sufficient to improve margins on a consecutive quarter basis," Sheptor said.

The improved bottom line year-on-year was due to lower selling costs; the refiner's net sales reached $227.7m, roughly in line with the $227.4m it made last year.

Imperial said its volumes fell 16% due to the contribution of the Gramercy refinery to another refiner, Louisiana Sugar Refining, last January. In December, Imperial sold its stake in Louisiana to former partners Cargill and forming co-op Sugar Growers and Refiners. However, the fall in volumes was offset by an 18% increase in prices.