Tepid summer weather has global ice cream leaders Unilever and Nestlé reporting declines in sales.

The Swiss food giant Nestlé singled out Western Europe as a "very challenging" market and plans to launch more new products across Europe this year in an attempt to reverse sliding sales.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chief executive, said yesterday that "poor weather conditions" hit sales of water and ice cream in the spring. Slow sales of products such as Perrier water meant the group missed its organic revenue target. Dutch/Anglo Unilever reported its first fall in sales last month for four years on the back of poor ice cream sales.

Unilever last month issued an unexpected profit warning. The most immediate reason for the downgrade was the lower than expected value of ice cream sales over the summer. Unilever is the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world, and this is therefore a core product for the company.