Unilever’s share price was down this morning (25 April) as weakness in spreads held back an otherwise “solid” first-quarter performance.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant today reported underlying sales growth of 4.9% in the three months to the end of March, below analyst forecasts of 5.6%. The Flora producer revealed underlying volume growth of 2.2%, with pricing up 2.6%.

While Unilever said the overall performance was “solid”, reported growth was held back by the slow start to the ice cream season and weakness in spreads.

Underlying sales growth in food was down 0.5% with volumes down 1.4%. Its spreads business was also declining, Unilever said, driven by a “tough” promotional environment and with consumers switching to alternatives. Ice cream was up slightly despite a high prior year comparator and cold European weather conditions.

Turnover increased 0.2% to EUR12.2bn including a negative currency impact of 3.5%.

Unilever’s share price was down 2.7% to 2764 pence at 08:11 BST today.

Click here for a round-up of what analysts said about Unilever’s Q1 sales.