US baker Flowers Foods saw its first-quarter net income edge up slightly today (27 May), despite “competitive pressures” and higher input costs.

For the 16 weeks ended 25 April, net income reached US$37.4m compared to $35.8m in the previous year.

Sales for the period also increased, reaching $807m – a 19.3% increase on the comparable period of 2008.

The rise was achieved through a favourable pricing mix of 6.8%, a volume increase of 0.5%, and a 12% contribution from acquisitions.

“We are pleased with the results this quarter. Our team delivered sales growth in excess of 19% and earnings in line with our expectation in spite of headwinds from the economy and competitive pressures,” said George Deese, chairman, CEO and president. “We are particularly pleased with the results considering we faced continued challenges in the quarter from higher input costs compared to the same time frame last year.”

Deese said the company remains focused on the bakery segments and sees “opportunities for growth” in the sector.

“Consumers are eating more at home due to the economy, which translates into more purchases in the bread aisle. The strength of Nature’s Own and our other brands allows us to increase our promotional activity, and we will continue to do so to protect and grow our market share and our brand presence,” Deese added.

EBITDA for the first quarter was $83.5m, or 10.3% of sales, an increase of 11.3% over the comparable quarter of 2008.

Flowers Foods said its expects sales for fiscal 2009 to be $2.72bn to $2.765bn and net income to be 4.7% to 5% of sales, or $127.8bn to $138.3m.