US rice producer Riviana Foods has posted lower quarterly earnings, as its domestic rice business was hit by the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets.

The Houston, Texas-based company reported net income of US$6.4m, or 43 cents per share, for the third-quarter to 28 March, compared to $6.7m, or 46 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Third-quarter sales rose to $116.1m, from $99.4m a year earlier. Operating income for the quarter was $9.1m, up 6% from the $8.6m reported for the prior year quarter.

"Riviana's domestic rice business experienced another challenging quarter. Price increases implemented in the first half of fiscal 2004 resulted in improved third quarter margins, however, the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets continued to impact retail rice volumes," the company said.

However, the company said it was pleased with the growth in its international segments.

"Our Central American operations are reporting strong results under extremely competitive market conditions, and our European business is reaping the benefits of increased volumes and efficiency," said CEO Joseph Hafner, Jr.