UPDATE 2-Unilever leaves sales target unchanged despite strong start to year

jueves 14 de abril de 2016 08:57 GYT

* Still sees 2016 sales up 3-5 pct after Q1 up 4.7 pct

* Rolling out changes to products, structure and budgeting

* Pricing hurt by deflation in Europe

* Nestle's sales surprise, driven by volumes rather than price (Adds details on new initiatives, bullet points, analyst comment)

By Martinne Geller

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - Consumer goods giant Unilever left its sales growth target unchanged on Thursday despite a strong first-quarter performance, saying it expects markets for packaged goods around the world to remain difficult this year.

Swiss food group Nestle, a rival in some product ranges, also reported a rise in sales on Thursday, with underlying growth of 3.9 percent beating analysts' expectations as relatively moderate price increases were compensated for by higher volumes.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch maker of products ranging from Lipton tea to Dove soap, said it had expected emerging markets - where it gets more than half its sales - to become more difficult as economies in Latin America and Africa have been hit by the fall in commodities and energy prices, while growth elsewhere cools.

"We expected tougher markets and we're finding tougher markets," Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly told Reuters.   Continuación...