Groupe Bel, the French cheese firm behind brands including Boursin and Leerdammer, has reported a 9% increase in first-quarter sales.

Bel booked sales of EUR647.6m (US$839.4m), 9.1% higher on the first quarter of 2011, and reported increased revenues across its regions.

The company saw the fastest growth in the emerging markets of Africa and the Middle East but it also increased sales in western Europe. Bel said it had achieved “remarkable” sales growth in the region of 3.7%. Sales in Eastern Europe rose 11.4% under what the company called “depressed economic conditions”.

Bel, which saw annual profits slide by more than 17% in 2011, did not disclose earnings figures for the quarter.

Its guidance for 2012 remained cautious. “Market conditions remain uncertain, with a lackluster economic situation in Europe in particular, and instability in some Group markets,” Bel said. “Despite this environment, the group expects to further its development going forward, while maintaining its strong balance sheet.”

Click here for the full statement.