US snacks maker John B. Sanfilippo & Son has seen its first-quarter losses narrow due to lower costs and rising sales.

The company today (30 October) booked a net loss of US$384,000 for the three months to 25 September, down from $3.4m a year earlier.

Total operating expenses for the first quarter decreased to 9.1% of net sales from 9.7% for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 primarily due to lower consulting costs.

First-quarter net sales increased by 1.5% to $134.8m due to price increases for walnuts, cashews, peanuts and mixed nuts.

The gross profit margin, as a percentage of net sales, increased from 8.9% for the first quarter to 10.5% for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, and gross profit increased by $2.4m.

"As a result of current economic conditions, consumer preferences are expected to shift towards increased trial of lower-cost private brand alternatives, increased coupon use, increased at-home food preparation and less frequent shopping trips," said CEO Jeffrey Sanfilippo. "We anticipate these shifts will provide opportunities to expand our private-label programmes and pursue Fisher brand growth in the supercenter, club and dollar store channels."