Nestle keeps upbeat tone as first-quarter growth accelerates

Nestle chocolate products are displayed on the shelves of a Kroger supermarket in Decatur, Georgia.
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Food group Nestle confirmed it expected organic sales growth to exceed 3% this year after good momentum in the United States and China helped it post better-than-expected sales growth in the first three months.

Consumers' appetite for fresh, locally produced foods has hit sales of packaged goods, a trend Nestle and its peers are trying to buck by focusing on fast-growing categories like infant formula or coffee, accelerating innovation and putting less sugar and fat in their products.

Organic sales growth at the maker of Nescafe instant coffee and Maggi soups accelerated to 3.4% in the first quarter of 2019, ahead of the average estimate of 2.8% in an Infront Data poll of analysts.

"Our increased speed, innovation for a changing world and execution focus are clearly paying off. We confirm our outlook for the year," Chief Executive Mark Schneider said in a statement on Thursday.

The company based in Vevey in western Switzerland said its biggest markets, the United States and China, maintained good momentum in the quarter, with the largest growth contributions coming from petcare, dairy and infant nutrition.

French yogurt maker Danone posted underlying quarterly sales growth of 0.8% on Wednesday, hit by setbacks in China and Morocco, but said it expected sales growth to accelerate from the second quarter.

Anglo-Dutch Unilever is also due to release a first-quarter trading statement on Thursday.