Nestlé has predicted annual growth of around 5% for its food and drinks division.

In its third-quarter trading update, the world’s largest food manufacturer said group sales for the nine months to 30 September were up 4.1%, as food and drink sales hit £50bn (CHF77bn).

Sales in Europe were up 2% on an organic basis to CHF15.9bn, buoyed by debuts for Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Green Blend, Maggi Juicy Chicken and Nestlé Grand Chocolat.

“Nestlé has continued to deliver a solid performance in the UK and Ireland so far this year,” said Nestlé UK chief executive Paul Grimwood.

“The economic climate is still challenging and the market is highly competitive. We expect these conditions to continue into 2011, with ongoing pressure on household budgets.”

Emerging markets were a key driver of growth, with sales up by 11%. The Kit Kat maker cited strong performances from dairy products, beverages and confectionery in those markets.

Global sales of coffee brand Nescafé were up 1.8%, with Nescafé Gold Blend up 3.9%. Its Waters division grew by just over 4% to £4.3bn.

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