The company reported total sales of €10.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, some 7.7 per cent ahead of 2003 on a like-for-like basis. But the actual increase was a more modest 4.5 per cent, with the group's beverage arm (which consists of the Evian and Volvic mineral water brands, among others), dragging down results.
Sales at the beverage business were €2.77 billion in the nine-month period, down 5 per cent on the previous year when sales were lifted dramatically by the hot weather across most of Europe.
But there was a good performance from the dairy products arm, which posted nine-month turnover of €5.2 billion, up 10.6 per cent on the previous year, although sales growth continued to slow compared to the two previous quarters.
Danone's third major product stream, biscuits, showed modest growth of just 0.4 per cent for the quarter. The company is in the process of selling its Jacob's sweet and savoury biscuit business in the UK to the United Biscuits group, and has already disposed of its Irish unit to Fruitfield Foods, and excluding the impact of the divestment, like-for-like sales growth was 3.6 per cent.