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Nestlé reports record nine-month sales

Food giant Nestlé has posted record sales of SFr81.4 billion ($70.14 billion) for the first nine months of 2008, it announced on Thursday.

The Vevey-based firm said that from January to September, sales grew 3.4 per cent, with growth in both its food and beverages business and in pharmaceuticals. The group’s food and beverage division posted sales of SFr75.8 billion.

Acquisitions added another 2.5 per cent to sales but a strong Swiss franc had hit sales by 8.0 per cent, the company said.

Organic growth, an industry yardstick comprising volume growth and price increases, in developing markets stood at 16.8 per cent, Nestlé reported.

The only division where sales were down was bottled water, where environmental concerns in Europe and the US have cut consumption.

The world’s largest food company said it would use proceeds from the sale of its $10.4 billion stake in Alcon to reduce its exposure to short-term unsecured commercial debt.

Nestlé said its debt would be lower at the end of this year than in 2007, when it stood at SFr21.2 billion.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR