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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Nestle combats shopper gloom
Profits at Nestle, the world's largest food firm, have halved to $2bn (1.26) during the first six months of the year.

However, much of the fall was attributed to the strength of the Swiss franc, and profits actually rose by 5% if currency fluctuations were stripped out.

And Nestle's sales index - which strips out exchange rates and acquisitions - showed a better than expected 5.5% growth rate.

The firm's chief executive, Peter Brabeck, highlighted higher prices for yoghurt and mineral water as one of the reasons that Nestle was still earning more despite the global economic slowdown.

The strength of Nestle's brand means it has some leeway to raise prices in order to offset weaker sales.

Mr Brabeck, who began his career as an icecream salesman, said that the sales growth would continue for the rest of the year, sending Nestle's shares 2% higher in morning trade.

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