PHILADELPHIA — Tasty Baking Co., in the first quarter ended March 28, sustained a loss of $70,000, which compared with a loss of $959,000 in the first quarter last year.

The loss in the first quarter reflected a $600,000 jump in ingredient and packaging costs as well as an $800,000 incremental after-tax depreciation expense against the useful life of its Philadelphia baking plant associated with the company’s pending move in late 2009.

Adjusted EBITDA, meanwhile, rose 71% to $3,635,000, up from $2,127,000.

Net sales were $46,163,000, up 8% from $42,822,000 in the comparable period in 2008. Route sales, which benefited from higher volumes and selling prices as well as balanced performance across all major product categories, rose 9.1%, while non-route sales increased 3.6%.

"In the first quarter of 2009, we generated strong top-line growth in both the route and non-route portions of our business, and continued to expand market share in our core markets," said Charles P. Pizzi, president and chief executive officer. "In addition, we benefited from our risk management and cost containment programs, which helped to offset the year-over-year impact of increased packaging and ingredient costs.

"With regards to the new bakery project, it remains on time and within budget. We are pleased with our progress and continue to expect that we will begin our methodical line-by-line production transition at the end of 2009. In addition we moved into our new corporate headquarters and administrative offices at the Navy Yard in mid-April and expect to reap the benefits associated with a more efficient and open office space that is just a mile from the site of our new bakery."

Tasty Baking said total cost of sales, excluding depreciation, rose 3.9%, or $1.1 million, on a unit volume increase of 2.4% in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Also rising were selling, general and administrative expense, which climbed 5.7% versus the same quarter last year.

"We are pleased with our top-line performance in this quarter and the positive impact from higher selling prices and changes in our promotional strategy, which not only helped fuel our sales growth, but also translated into a significant improvement in gross profit," said Paul D. Ridder, senior vice-president and chief financial officer. "While we saw declines in selected commodity prices during the first quarter of 2009, when taken as a whole, we experienced a moderate increase in packaging and ingredient costs, which offset some of the benefit associated with higher selling prices."