US bakery products maker Flowers Foods has posted a first-quarter profit, versus a year-ago loss, and said it would introduce new products to meet consumers’ specific health needs.

The company reported net income of US$13.7m, or 30 cents per share, for the 16-week first quarter ended 24 April 2004, compared to a loss of $5.7m, or 12 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2003.

The results for the first quarter of 2004 include charges of $3.5m, or 8 cents per share, related to retained liabilities associated with the Mrs. Smith’s frozen dessert business sold in April 2003, compared to first quarter 2003 charges related to those discontinued operations of $19.3m, or 41 cents per share. Income from continuing operations for the first quarter increased 25.6% to $17.2m, or 38 cents per share.

Sales for the quarter increased 5.4% to $457.8m, compared to $434.6m for last year’s first quarter. The sales increase for the quarter was due primarily to increased volume as the company further penetrated existing markets and expanded its geographic coverage with direct-store-delivery routes. Sales of Nature’s Own breads contributed the majority of the sales increase. Foodservice sales also increased on higher volume. The increases in branded retail and foodservice sales were partially offset by a slight decline in sales of non-branded retail products.

“This week, we introduced six new Nature’s Own products, including a double fibre bread and buns and rolls for carbohydrate-conscious consumers. Our efforts to extend our product line to address specific health needs of consumers will continue as we go forward,” said CEO George Deese.