Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle posted a 3.7% rise in first-half profits and strong sales today, despite what it described as the challenges of slowing markets and "value-conscious" consumers.

But the world's biggest food and drink company said it still expects underlying sales growth of around 5% for the remainder of the year.

Based in Vevey in Switzerland, Nestle is the maker of dozens of household name brands such as Nescafe, Haagen Dazs and Jenny Craig.

It also is a major buyer of food commodities, and its results can serve as an indicator of worldwide consumer demand and health of the global economy.

Nestle reported first-half profits of 5.1 billion Swiss francs ($5.5 billion) in the six months from January to June, up from a restated 4.9 billion francs in the same period last year.

It also said its sales rose 5.3% to 45.2 billion francs, up from a restated 42.9 billion francs the same time a year ago.

Chief executive Paul Bulcke said the first half shows "a balanced performance, both top and bottom line, in an environment of lower growth and lower input costs."

The underlying sales growth, he said, was "somewhat muted, reflecting lower pricing by our markets, as we leveraged softer input costs to meet the expectations of today's more value conscious consumers."