Swiss food giant Nestlé has reported an 8.1% increase in full-year net profit despite “challenging circumstances”.

The company reported net profit of CHF6.7bn (US$5.8bn) for 2004 compared to CHF6.2bn in the previous year. Sales were CHF86.8bn compared to CHF88.0bn a year earlier. Nestlé attributed the sales decline to a negative 3.5% currency impact and the level of divestitures. Organic growth was 4.5%, below the group’s long-term target but above the industry average.

“The group has shown that it can deliver strong growth and better profitability even under challenging circumstances. In particular, our businesses in the Americas and Asia, Oceania and Africa, together with Alcon, have achieved outstanding growth and strong profit performances,” said CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

“Looking ahead to 2005, I am confident that Nestlé will again increase its sales and EBITA margin in constant currencies, with organic growth within our trend target of between 5 and 6%,” he added.