Packaging giant Tetra Pak posted a decline in sales growth for the fourth quarter of 2008 after stalling economies and the global credit crunch hit demand.

Net sales for 2008, however, reached EUR8.8bn (US$11.6bn), up 5% on 2007.

Tetra Pak said its packaging sales reached EUR7.8bn in 2008 – up 4.5% on the year. The firm said growth was boosted by continuing growth in regions including Central and South America, the Middle East, China, south-east Asia, North America and southern Europe.

The group’s processing division saw its revenues rise to EUR949m in 2008, up 9.3% over 2007. The figure benefited from new sales generated by the acquisition of two specialist food processing firms and sales growth in virtually all regions, Tetra Pak said.

“During these economically difficult times it is more important than ever to provide our customers with value-driven solutions. With our current strategy, investments to meet market needs and drive to continuously improve quality and operational efficiency we are well positioned to support our customers to remain competitive,“ said president and CEO Dennis Jönsson.

In 2008, Tetra Pak announced plans to build a “state-of-the-art” packaging material manufacturing plant in Pakistan and in new equipment in order to increase production in Brazil and Italy.

The company also acquired specialised food processing companies, Downer MBL Pty Ltd and Downer MBL, from Australia-based Downer EDI last year.