The Biotech group said that that total sales for the opening three months of the year were up by 20 per cent on a constant exchange rate basis to $3.7bn (€2.3bn), helped by continued market growth for the group in emerging markets. These volume growth improvements over the period were further supported by three per cent increase in pricing for its products, according to Syngenta. Although the company said it was not expecting to maintain the current momentum in sales improvements for the entire 12 month period, earnings per share, as a result, were still likely to be above 20 per cent by the year's end. Crop protection In the company's crop protection division, sales on a constant rate basis were up by 22 per cent over the period to $2.6bn (€1.6bn). Syngenta said that a strong start to the Northern Hemisphere season and continued growth within a number of markets like Latin America were behind the increases. Higher levels of corn and cereal crop planting within some Western and Eastern European markets is also expected to ensure continued strong growth in these regions, the company said. In the group's North American and Mexican operations, wheat demand and corn fungicides increased strongly over the period, while Syngenta's Asia Pacific operations also benefited from favourable weather conditions in markets like Australia, the company said. The company claimed that its entire range of products from non-selective herbicides like Touchdown and Gramoxone, to fungicides like Amistar, all posted strong sales improvements for the quarter. In terms of product innovation, Syngenta said that a number of more recent launches like Axial, Actara and Cruiser led to a 24 per cent increase in new products sales totalling $487m (€305m). Seed sales For the group's seed product arm, growing US demand for soybeans allowed the company to offset lower corn acreage in the country. Total sales for the division therefore reached $1.1bn for the period, up 13 per cent on the previous year. This growth was also driven by increased corn sales in Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe, Syngenta said. The company also said that it had posted strong growth in its recently consolidated vegetable arm.