Nestlé, the world's largest food group, has reported a slight fall in first quarter sales but said organic sales across the business rose 3.8%.

Group sales slipped 2.1% to CHF25.2bn (£14.7bn) from CHF25.7bn a year ago, but organic growth – which strips out the effects of the strong Swiss Franc and acquisitions – rose thanks to strong gains in its Petcare and Powdered and Liquid Beverages divisions.

In the UK, Nestlé highlighted the strong performance of KitKat, which achieved double-digit sales growth.

Despite the global slowdown, Nestlé reiterated its forecast for 2009 sales growth of “at least approaching 5%” compared to its long-term target of 5-6%.

“The group achieved positive organic growth in the first quarter of 2009 despite tough comparisons with Nestlé's near-10% organic growth over the same period last year,” said chief executive Paul Bulcke.

“Our response to the challenging economic environment in 2009 has been to seize new opportunities, accelerating key initiatives in areas such as product affordability, innovation and renovation, as well as cost efficiencies.”