Nestle, the world’s largest producer of packaged foods, is hoping to put a rocky 2014 behind it with an expected 5 per cent rise in sales this year.
Famed for brands such as Nestle, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Kitkat the business was buffeted by headwinds in both Europe and Asia where it has been hit by both slowing demand and inflation which brought down its reported sales by 0.6 per cent to $97.37bn.
Nevertheless the firm still managed to increase its net profit by 4.4bn francs to 14.5bn francs last year, aided by a cost cutting drive, price rises and the sale of its stake in L’Oreal.
Organic sales rose by 4.5 per cent over the same period, below its 5 per cent target.
Paul Bulcke, Nestlé CEO, said: “These are strong results, building on the good growth of past years and delivered in a soft trading environment. They demonstrate the intrinsic strengths of Nestlé: the commitment of our people, our global footprint, the strength of our portfolio and the quality of our innovation.
“While delivering in the short term, we remain focused on our business long term, strengthening the foundations of future growth. We expect 2015 to be similar to 2014 and we aim to achieve organic growth of around 5 per cent with improvements in margins, underlying earnings per share in constant currencies and capital efficiency.”
In an effort to counter the downward pressure on sales exerted by consumers seeking healthier options Nestle has also vowed to remove all artificial flavours from its US chocolate range by the end of the year, opting to use natural ingredients instead.