Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever said Thursday its sales jumped by 12.3 percent in the first quarter to 12.8 billion euros ($13.6 billion), boosted by favourable currency rates and an early Easter.
"We have had a good start to the year, helped by favourable currency movements but also an improvement in underlying sales," Unilever's chief executive Paul Polman said.
"This despite a continued challenging trading environment in many parts of the world," Polman said in a statement.
Unilever's foods arm including it's biggest brand, soup and sauce maker Knorr, performed well and showed "strong sales in the run up to Easter which was earlier this year," the Rotterdam-based Unilever said.
It also made a solid start in the ice cream market, its star performers being Magnum Pink and Ben&Jerry's Cookie core range in Europe.
The massive Dutch distributor added underlying profit rose by 2.8 percent -- beating a 2.1 increase forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg news agency.
Unilever's share price rose by more than four percent to over 42 euros ($44) per share in early morning trade on the Amsterdam stock exchange's AEX index.
"Actions that we have been taking to put us on track for higher levels of growth are starting to pay off," said Polman. "We are now starting to see more tailwinds than headwinds."
He added Unilever to further boost product innovation.
Founded in 1930, Unilever markets and distributes many major brands including Lipton tea, Bertolli olive oil, Dove personal care products and Omo washing powder and employs 173,000 people world-wide.