Imperial Sugar Company has reported a loss for the three-month period ended 31 March 2005, blaming higher costs and competitive pricing pressure.

The company reported a net loss of $1.1m, compared to net income of $1.6m in the same period a year ago. For the six-month period, the company reported a net profit of $5.5m compared to net income of $5.2m in the year earlier period.

Net sales were $206.9m, compared to $209.6m a year ago.  Domestic sugar volumes increased 1.7% for the quarter, as more aggressive industrial selling increased volumes 6.1%, while consumer volumes decreased 5.7% due to competitive pressures in the private label sector, offsetting increases in branded consumer volumes, the company said. Overall domestic sales prices were 2.4% lower for the three months ended 31 March 2005 compared to the same period in 2004 reflecting the effects of increased competitive pressures resulting from a surplus of sugar on the market.

"Our second quarter is generally our weakest quarter as sales volumes decline and factory efficiencies suffer with lower utilization," said Robert A. Peiser, Imperial Sugar's president and CEO. "Comparisons to last year's second quarter have been made more difficult due to that year's unusually strong results. In addition, the impact of higher energy costs, directly with respect to our processing costs and also in our material and freight charges, are now apparent. Finally, competitive pricing pressures have continued through this period, a fact that we have discussed in prior releases and investor calls."