* Q3 underlying sales up 5.7 pct at 1.27 bln Sfr
* Analysts polled by Reuters expected sales of 1.24 bln Sfr
* Company says continues to implement price increases (Adds details from statement and background)
ZURICH, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Swiss fragrance and flavour maker Givaudan maintained its 2020 financial targets after third-quarter sales rose 5.7 percent on a like-for-like basis to 1.27 billion Swiss francs ($1.3 billion).
Sales rose 7.7 percent measured in Swiss francs.
"The company continues to successfully implement price increases in collaboration with its customers to compensate the increases in input costs," Givaudan said on Tuesday.
"The company reaffirms its 2020 ambition to create further value through profitable, responsible growth."
Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected sales of 1.24 billion francs.
Givaudan and peers such as Germany's Symrise and U.S.-based IFF are grappling with rising input costs and slowing growth at big food groups, which are important customers. They are trying to buck the trend by focusing on natural ingredients.
Stripping out the impact of currency swings and acquisitions, sales at the Geneva-based group rose an underlying 3.5 percent to 3.76 billion francs in the first nine months of the year.
The group, which makes fragrances for perfumes and toothpaste and flavours for lemonade and chicken, confirmed its 2020 targets of 4-5 percent average sales growth and a free cash flow of 12-17 percent of sales on average over a five-year cycle.
It aims to maintain its current dividend practice.
$1 = 0.9780 Swiss francs Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Michael Shields and Subhranshu Sahu