Ice cream and bottled water sales were saved from a rather disappointing first half in Europe by the heatwave that has swept across the continent this summer.
Nestlé, reporting sales up 6.4 per cent for its first six months of 2006, confirmed it had seen a spike in water and ice cream sales this summer. Paul Polman, chief financial officer, told the results conference: "Nestlé Waters was below its own averages but recovered in July…[and]… Ice cream was quiet ahead of its peak season but enjoyed double-digit growth as the weather picked up."
Temperatures this July rose to their highest levels since records began in Britain alone, leaving consumers baking and supermarkets and producers counting their winnings.
The weather has helped Nestlé to keep on track in Europe this year, bolstering stronger growth from other regions, such as the Americas and Asia.
In Europe, ice cream sales have received a particular boost in the UK this summer, something that may also boost Nestlé in its third quarter. Britain's supermarkets reported some of their best ice cream sales ever in July.
Nestlé's dairy and nutrition division increase sales by five per cent in the six months of the year.
The group said ice cream sales had continued to perform well in North America, largely thanks to the Dreyer's business. It was Nestlé's deal to get full ownership of Dreyer's earlier this year that saw it overtake Unilever as the world's number one ice cream firm.
Nestlé has also forged ahead in emerging ice cream markets, launching premium ice cream brand Movenpick in China this July.
"There are many consumers, especially in Shanghai and other major metropolitan areas, that are willing to pay more for top quality ice cream," said Ken Donaldson, head of the group's ice cream business in China.
The country has become an increasingly important market for Nestlé over the last couple of years, and the group said its infant formula products had also performed well there in the first half.
The firm's Asia, Oceana and Africa division showed the highest sales growth in food (7.6 per cent), compared to 6.9 per cent in the Americas and 2.5 per cent in Europe. The group's total net profit rose 11.4 per cent for the six months.