US nuts and snacks maker John B. Sanfilippo & Son has reported a first-quarter net loss, hit by volume declines.

The company posted a net loss of $1.5m, or 14 cents per share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2006, in comparison with net income of $2.6m, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net sales for the fiscal 2006 first quarter increased by 2.6% to approximately $138.1m from $134.6m in the first quarter of fiscal 2005. Net sales increased between 17% and 18% in the industrial, food service and export channels. Net sales of Fisher branded products increased by 13%, though overall net sales in the consumer channel declined by 8% due in large part to the loss of business in the latter half of fiscal 2005 with private label customers who would not accept price increases.

Volume shipped in the consumer channel declined by 18%, while volume in the foodservice channel declined by 6%.

“Unit volume sales of private label consumer products declined significantly in the current quarter when compared to the first quarter of the previous year,” said Jasper Sanfilippo, chairman and chief executive officer.

“Though this has been a difficult quarter from a volume standpoint, we did see indications in the quarter that prices for cashews, pecans and peanuts could decline in the next calendar year, which typically leads to increased promotional activity of private label snack nut products by retailers and increased unit volume sales,” Sanfilippo added.