Kerry Group today (2 November) stuck to its full-year earnings target despite its sales growth slowing in the third quarter of the year.

The Irish food maker reported a 7.9% increase in like-for-like revenue in the first nine months of 2011. In August, Kerry said like-for-like sales had climbed 8.4% in the first half of the year.

Volumes from both Kerry's ingredients and consumer foods business slowed. In the nine months to the end of September, Kerry's ingredients and flavours volumes increased 3.9%, while volumes from its consumer business were up 1.6%.

By contrast, Kerry's first-half ingredients and flavours volumes rose 4.1% and its consumer volumes climbed 2%. 

The company said its trading profit margin was down 0.3% in the first nine months of the year, the same fall it announced in August when it reported its half-year results. 

However, Kerry maintained its earnings forecast for 2011 and said it was "confident" that it would see adjusted earnings per share increase by 8-12%.