Consumer goods giant Unilever today reported stronger than expected quarterly underlying sales growth, helped by higher prices and volume and strength in emerging markets. 

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream also stood by its forecast for the full year, which calls for underlying sales growth in the lower half of a 3-5% range.

The company said its underlying sales, stripping out acquisitions, disposals and currency moves, rose 3.1% in the first quarter. 

Analysts on average were expecting a 2.8% rise, according to a company-supplied consensus forecast. 

Turnover fell 1.6% to €12.4 billion, the company added.