US natural and organic food and personal care products company Hain Celestial has reported a rise in first-quarter net income, boosted by a 17% rise in net sales.

The company posted net income of US$7.4m, or 20 cents per share, for the quarter to 30 September, compared to $6.2m, or 17 cents per share, in the prior year's first quarter. Sales were $161.1m, compared to $137.6m a year earlier.

"Our sales growth came from our existing brand sales as we realised incremental opportunities due to greater shelf space allocated to our faster-selling products, a direct result of our stock keeping unit rationalisation programme. We also benefited from the strength of new product introductions and new distribution," said Irwin Simon, president and chief executive officer.

"With rising consumer demand for natural and organic products, we were able to achieve strong top and bottom line growth," he added.

The company's first quarter sales growth was achieved by increased momentum from grocery and snacks, tea and personal care and in Canada and Europe. Sales of the company's brands were strong, with Terra Chips up 14%, Garden of Eatin' up 32%, Health Valley up 13%, Earth's Best up 61%, Imagine soups up 52%, and Celestial Seasonings up 7%. Sales growth from the new Hain Pure Protein joint venture, under the Raised Right brand of natural and antibiotic-free chicken, grew 11%.

The company confirmed its fiscal year 2006 guidance of $650m to $670m in sales and earnings of $0.98 to $1.05 per share.