Unillever, the world's second-largest consumer goods company, posted forecast-beating first quarter sales of €12.1bn , an 8.4 percent rise, as emerging market growth offset rising input costs.

However, the maker of Dove soap and PG Tips tea issued a cautious outlook for the ful year, hinting a slowdown in emerging market growth in regions such as Russia and Eastern Europe will create a tough economic environment. It warned that despite its own price rises helping it report a rise in sales, it will be facing slower growth in developed nations while competition from key rivals are being stepped up.

"The external macro-economic environment remains difficult and high input cost headwinds persist," said the group in its first quarter trading statement.

Unilevers shares surged more than 4 percent to trade at 2,165 pence, bringing the share price performance to break-even for the year.