However, market growth continued to decline in the emerging economies of South and South East Asia, while developed markets remained relatively fragile despite some improvement in southern Europe.
The Anglo-Dutch company saw robust performances from both Personal Care and Home Care, while Europe delivered a strong start to the ice cream season. Foods did not perform so well, with the company attributing the decline to the timing of Easter and weak markets.
Unilever said it was pleased with its start to the year in light of a slowdown in markets and stiff competition. Turnover fell over the quarter by 6.3 per cent to €11.4bn (£9.4bn), while the company's quarterly dividend rose by six per cent to €0.285.
Paul Polman, chief executive officer, said in a statement:
We continue to invest in our brands so that they are well-placed to benefit from the significant longer term growth opportunity that will come from growing populations and higher disposable income.