The Swiss-headquartered company published its nine-month sales overview today (20 October), registering 3.3% organic growth and 2.5% real internal growth.
This was its lowest underlying sales growth in more than 10 years.
CEO Paul Bulcke said: "In an environment marked by deflation and low raw material prices, we continued to privilege volume growth, resulting in real internal growth at the higher end of the industry in both emerging and developed markets. Pricing remained soft but increasing.”
Total sales increased by 1% rising to CHF 65.5 billion (€60.4bn).
Bulcke added that the company was “making progress” in addressing challenges in a generally softer trading environment and that it was continuing to invest in the future.
“We maintain a high level of brand support while building our innovation pipeline, both globally and locally. At the same time, we drive more operational and structural efficiencies by standardizing, sharing and scaling more activities above market.”
In Europe, the Middle East and North Africa the company reported sales of CHF 12.2 billion (€11.2bn) and organic growth of 2.2%.
Western Europe continued to deliver positive growth, fuelled mainly by Nescafé Dolce Gusto, petcare products and frozen pizza, despite a deflationary market.
Italy, Spain and Portugal were the top performing countries in Western Europe while Eastern Europe delivered double-digit growth with Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic contributing to the good results, the company said.
From its Health Sciences division it said the over-50s protein and B vitamins soup and shake product Meritene had performed well in European markets. The meal replacement drink Boost and breakfast drink Carnation Breakfast Essentials had performed well in the US and its medical nutrition division drew a mention for its Chinese performance.
The Illuma infant formula brand under its Wyeth brand was also performing well in China, notching "double-digit organic growth."