Danone recorded “very strong” first-quarter sales today (14 April) as the dairy-to-water group recorded double-digit growth in its priority markets – including Russia, the US and Brazil.

For the quarter ended 31 March, net sales grew 19.6% to EUR4.7bn (US$6.8bn). Excluding the impact of exchange rates and consolidation, sales were up 8.5%, reflecting a 5% rise in volumes, and a 3.5% increase in value on a like-for-like basis.

Fresh dairy sales rose 6.5% for the quarter to reach EUR2.8bn, while baby nutrition sales were up 9.3% to EUR910m.

Danone said it does not expect any change in consumer spending in either industrialised or emerging economies but expects raw material prices to remain on a “volatile upward path”. It has forecast raw material packaging and costs to increase by 6-9% on average over the year, with a steeper increase in the first half.

It said that it will work to manage the increases through “consistently high productivity”, while using pricing to maintain a “competitive edge” adding that it has “increased room to manoeuvre” due to its 2009 repositioning programme.

Shares in Danone were up 1.85% to EUR47.7 a share at 11:04 CET