Groupe Danone has reported a 9% consolidated sales increase at EUR3.5bn (US$4.3bn) in a thriving first quarter for the company - particularly in Asia.

Asian revenues reached EUR678m, a 17.9% increase compared to the EUR523m made in the first quarter last year. European sales totaled EUR2bn, climbing 4.3%.

Fresh dairy products sales were approximately EUR2bn, up 9.5% compared to EUR1.7bn in last year's fourth quarter. An 11.8% increase in beverages, at EUR947m, and 3.5% boost to biscuits and cereal products, at EUR597m, also contributed to the first quarter growth.

The company said its first quarter performance was in line with overall expectations and is a result of both continuing robust growth in Asia, Americas and Eastern Europe, and from an improvement in sales from French businesses.

Danone also confirmed its 2006 targets of like-for-like sales growth between 5% and 7% and low double-digit growth in underlying earnings per share.