Shares in consumer food company Kerry Group rose today after it reported a 3.5% rise in business volumes in the nine months to the end of September.

The company said it maintained its trading margin despite its consumer goods division taking a hit due to weaker sterling.

Edmond Scanlon, Kerry's chief executive, said the company was pleased with its performance so far in 2018, with volume growth well ahead of its markets and underlying margin expansion in line with expectations. 

He noted that the company delivered good volume growth against very strong comparatives in the third quarter. 

"We have also made good progress across our strategic growth priorities, including the recent acquisition announcements of Fleischmann's Vinegar Company and AATCO Food Industries," he added. 

Mr Scanlon said Kerry was encouraged by the progress it had made during the year and reaffirmed the company's full year 2018 guidance of adjusted earnings per share growth of 7% to 10% in constant currency.

Kerry said that volume growth of 4.1% in its Taste & Nutrition division was driven by meat, beverage and snacks sales. 

It noted that growth in its developed markets was "solid", while developing markets delivered strong broad-based growth of 9.7%. 

Its Consumer Foods division saw volume growth of 1.2% as its continued market outperformance was driven by good growth in 'Food to Go'.

While the UK consumer landscape had been resilient in the first half of 2018, Kerry noted that demand had softened in a number of categories in the third quarter. 

Kerry also said its Brexit mitigation programme is progressing in line with expectations.

The company said its net debt at the end of September stood at €1.4 billion, similar to the year end 2017 level. 

"The group's consolidated balance sheet remains strong which will facilitate the continued organic and acquisitive growth of group businesses," it added.

Kerry shares moved higher in Dublin trade today.