Kerry Group has released its Interim Management Statement for the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, showing a “solid start to the year”, according to its CEO.

Among the highlights for Q1 is a business volume growth of 3.3%, with its taste and nutrition division showing growth of 3.8%, and consumer foods up 0.8%.

Reported revenues for the group were up 10.3% in this period compared to the previous one, while the group’s trading margin, as well as the trading margin for both business divisions, increased by 10 basic points (bps).

The management statement was released to coincide with Kerry’s annual general meeting (AGM), which is being held today, Thursday, May 2. It covers the first three months of the year.

“We have made a solid start to the year, with overall business performance in line with expectations. The group continued to deliver volume growth ahead of the market while expanding [our] trading margin,” according to the CEO Edmond Scanlon.

“We are pleased with our innovation pipeline and the continued enhancement of our product mix,” he added.

Scanlon also said that the group’s recent acquisitions have performed well, and that progress has been made in integrating them into the company.

Kerry also reported a pricing decrease of 0.2%; this is attributed to: lower raw material prices on average; acquisition contribution of 4.7%; and a “favourable” translation currency impact of 2.5%.

The statement highlights that consumer demands for “food for life and wellbeing”, “new taste experience” and “made for me” products are particular drivers of innovation.

Regionally, the group’s European volume growth was 2.4%, thanks to a strong performance in the beverage division; growth in meat and snacks; and growth in northern Europe and Russia.

In the Americas, volume growth was 2.6%, with a solid performance in North America, attributed to meat, snacks and dairy markets.

Kerry’s net debt was €1.9 billion at the end of March, which it says reflects the acquisitions in the period; the group says its consolidated balance sheet remains strong.