VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Growth in emerging markets and higher retail prices helped to contribute to a 5.6% increase in sales at Nestle during the first quarter.

For the January through March quarter, the company had sales of 21,389 million Swiss francs ($23,523 million), which compared with 20,261 million Swiss francs during the same period of the previous year.

“As anticipated, 2012 is already confirming itself to be a challenging year,” said Paul Bulcke, chief executive officer. “In many developed markets where consumer confidence is low, the trading environment is subdued while in most emerging markets conditions remain dynamic and rich in growth opportunities.

Our past and present investments and continuing innovation have enabled us to deliver good growth in the first quarter. This, together with the pricing effect for the rest of the year and a likely improved raw material environment in the second half, allows us to confirm our full-year outlook of delivering 5% to 6% organic growth together with an improvement in the year-end margin and underlying earnings per share in constant currencies.”

In Zone Americas, sales were 6,537 million Swiss francs ($7,189 million), up 2% from 6,398 million Swiss francs during the same quarter of the previous year. The results were impacted by weak consumer sentiment with declining growth in various categories where pricing was higher.