Positive start to year for Nestle

Packaged food maker Nestle reported a slightly better-than-expected first-quarter sales for 2015, helped by gains in volume and prices.

The company behind KitKat bars, Gerber baby food and Perrier water said sales rose 0.5 per cent to 20.9bn Swiss francs (£14.6bn). Currency exchange rates, particularly the strong Swiss franc, reduced reported sales by 4.5 per cent.

On an organic basis, sales rose 4.4 per cent. Analysts on average expected a rise of 4.3 per cent, according to a poll.

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In February, Nestle predicted sales to grow around five per cent this year, which is at the low end of its long-term model of five to six per cent growth.

On Friday it affirmed that target, forecasting also improvements in margins, underlying earnings per share in constant currencies and capital efficiency.

Nestle and its peers who sell consumer packaged goods faced a tough year in 2014, due to a dramatic slowing of emerging market economies and sluggishness in Western Europe and North America.

On Thursday, Unilever reported surprisingly strong quarterly sales, helped by improvements in big markets such as China and North America.

Nestle reported growth of 2.5 per cent in developed markets and 6.7 per cent in emerging markets.