Going is good for the global dairy giants

Four of the world’s leading dairy companies – Kraft, Nestle, Unilever and Danone – have released their results for the three months to 31 March.

All four companies saw key dairy brands help to deliver strong performances. French group Danone posted particularly good results, with sales for its fresh dairy products division up 6.7% on the first quarter of 2001.

Overall Danone’s like for like sales growth was 4.1%, with the beverage division up 2.7% and the company’s biscuit and cereal business up 0.9%.

In a statement, the company said that following the deconsolidation of its Italian cheese and ham subsidiary Galbani at the end of April, organic sales growth would reach a minimum of 5.2%.
Danone’s North American dairy business saw 9% sales growth. However, an 8.8% drop in sales for its North American water business balanced this.

Unilever’s North American business was also supported by dairy sales. The company said that its 2% rise in food group sales in North America was driven by growth in spreads and its Ben and Jerry’s and Breyers ice cream brands.

Spreads gave Unilever a good return in other areas, with sales up 5% on the first quarter of 2001 in Europe and solid growth reported in South Africa. Overall turnover for Unilever’s food business for the first quarter was down 3% on the same period last year due to disposals.

Although Kraft said that its dairy business was performing well, it noted that its cheese sales in Europe dropped in the first quarter of 2002 due to increased price competition.

In its North American business, Kraft said that cheese sales were up on the first quarter of 2001, driven by its Kraft natural cheese and Velveeta processed cheese brands. The company also said that its Cool Whip dairy product had seen sales grow due to strong merchandising.

Overall, Kraft Foods saw a net profit of $802 million (E887 million) in the first quarter of 2002, up 19.7% on the same period last year.

Nestle remained upbeat about its results for the first quarter. The company said that its milk and nutrition businesses saw sales in the first quarter of 2002 up 5.6% on the same period last year.

For the period, Nestle’s milk and nutrition business saw sales of E3.73 billion. In a statement, the company said that real internal growth for the department was 2.4%. The company added that growth was spread evenly across operating countries.”

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