US egg producer Cal-Maine Foods has reported net income of US$17.6m for the second quarter to 29 November, compared to $2.0m in the year-ago period.

Cal-Maine's net sales were $149.9m for the quarter, compared to $95.0m in the same period last year.

For the first six months of the company's fiscal 2004, net sales were $264.3m compared with $177.2m for the prior-year period, while net income rose to $25.4m, compared with $0.3m a year earlier.

"The company's much improved financial performance is a reflection of very strong demand for eggs during the past six months. The higher demand resulted from favourable publicity about eggs from the medical community and increased usage of eggs in the high-protein diets that are currently popular. All of our facilities and all of our employees are running efficiently and at maximum capacity. The near term outlook is favourable with continued strong demand for eggs," said chief executive Fred Adams Jr.