Mark Schneider, Nestlé chief executive, said it was working closely with the Chinese authorities as they took measures to contain this epidemic.
“We stand in solidarity with the Chinese people and are working hard to ensure our nutritious food and beverages continue to be widely available, particularly those for the most vulnerable, the youngest and the oldest in society,” he added.
“The Greater China region is our second-largest market, representing about 8% of global sales. It is too early to quantify the financial impact of this outbreak at the present time.”
The owner of Nescafé and Kit Kat said it expected a continued increase in organic sales growth for 2020, and it foresaw mid single-digit growth acceleration in 2021/2022.
He revealed that Nestlé would continue to focus on “fast innovation” and highlighted the launch of its premium Starbucks product that has proved to be a success. It has been rolled out in more than 40 countries generating more than CHF300m (£234.6m) in incremental sales in 2019.
It revealed that its vegetarian and plant-based food products, including the Sweet Earth Awesome Burger and the Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger, also generated strong double-digit organic growth, reaching sales of close to CHF200m (£156.4m).
Group sales organic growth reached 3.5% in 2019, fully in line with the company’s guidance.
Year-on-year organic growth acceleration was supported by strong growth in the US and Brazil, as well as improved momentum in western Europe.