French food group Bongrain’s first-quarter net sales fell to EUR802.3m (US$1.06bn), down from EUR899.1m for the same period of last year.

Cheese net sales were hit by a fall in prices in certain markets and lower consumption due to the economic crisis, the company said. The first quarter of last year was also boosted by Easter sales, which fell in the period.

There was a positive foreign exchange effect of 0.3% and the gain in the value of the US dollar against the euro “more than compensated” for the fall in the value of sterling and the currencies in central and Eastern Europe.

Bongrain said that imbalances within the dairy industry – between the price of milk and the price of industrial products – are expected to have an impact on the group’s results during the first half of the year.

“The group’s financial structure remains solid. Our brands and market shares are resisting well and should enable us, when the time comes, to derive maximum benefit from the economic upturn and the readjustment of the French milk price,” the company said.