Shares in Kraft Foods, the US food giant, were down today (16 April) after an analyst downgraded his rating on the company’s stock.

UBS analyst David Palmer lowered the rating on Kraft to ‘neutral’ due to anxiety over the prospect for the company’s volumes in 2009.

“Today’s change is based on our concern that Kraft volume growth could be poor for most of 2009 due to its relative private label risk and international exposure,” Palmer wrote in a note to clients.

“We have diminished hope that volume growth will accelerate to positive levels in2009 and a lesser view of EPS upside potential.”

Palmer said Kraft executives were ringing in “positive changes” at the company, including increased marketing expenditure and an improved incentives and sales structure.

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However, the analysts argued that the impact of the global economic downturn this year would weigh on Kraft.

“In 2010, integration benefits from the Lu biscuit acquisition could accelerate. Still, macro headwinds could prove too stiff in ‘09, especially if job losses deepen,” he wrote.

Shares in Kraft were down 2% at $22.42 at 13:50 ET today.