Swiss food group Huegli recorded a fall in sales during 2010, hit by a strong Swiss franc.

The private-label and organics manufacturer announced today (27 January) that sales for the year were CHF372.2m (US$394.58m), a 4.7% drop. However, excluding the currency impact and the effect of a divestiture, sales were up 3.2%.

Huegli downplayed the impact of the fall in sales on profits, saying that as many of its products are manufactured and sold in the same currency, the influence of these “unfavourable exchange rates” on EBIT was “considerably weakened”.

However, the group said that sales growth slowed on the first half of the year. Sales in the second six months of 2010 grew 1.7% in local currencies, against 4.6% in the first half. It attributed the slowing growth to the “continuing difficult economic situation”.

The group’s private-label division showed the strongest gains, with growth in local currencies up by 11.8% against the previous year, driven by development in the Czech Republic, and a “successful market entry” in the UK. However, when converted to Swiss francs, sales declined by 3.9%.

The company said it is “sticking to its strategic target of recording organic sales growth of more than 5% over the long term”, adding that it constantly reviews market opportunities, “with the aim of increasing the profitability of our infrastructure and our sales capacity”.

Shares in the company were down 1.5% at 12:11 CET to CHF720 a share.

Click here for the company’s full earnings statement.