Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food company, reported first-quarter revenue that beat analysts’ estimates, led by Nescafe and Nespresso coffee.

Sales rose 3.9 percent on an organic basis, the Vevey, Switzerland-based maker of KitKat bars and Perrier water said in a statement Thursday. Analysts had expected 3.6 percent, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Despite the beat, the first-quarter growth rate is the slowest since 2009 as Nestle has struggled to get consumers interested in frozen pizzas and convenience meals. In response, the company is pushing into newer areas like medical nutrition and skincare, which promise faster growth. Nestle’s world-leading coffee business is also facing a fresh challenge from JAB Holding Co., which has spent more than $30 billion acquiring assets like Keurig Green Mountain Inc.

The maker of Gerber baby food confirmed its forecasts for 2016. Nestle said in February it expects organic revenue growth to be similar to last year’s 4.2 percent and below its long-term target because it’s hard to raise prices. Nestle also said at the time it aims to achieve improvements in margins and underlying earnings per share in constant currencies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Boyle at mboyle20@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier

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