Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider pushed back his target for sales growth and said the outbreak of coronavirus in China disrupted production in its second-largest market.
Nestlé will need one or two more years to return to increases of 4pc to 6pc, he said.
Revenue climbed 3.5pc on an organic basis in 2019, just short of analysts' estimates as the bottled-water business had its worst performance in a decade.
"With what we know now, in February 2020, it wouldn't have been correct to say, 'we'll make the 4pc'," Mr Schneider said. "We're giving ourselves more time."
Most of Nestlé's 30 factories in China have reopened this week, but are operating at reduced capacity.