In Industrial Chemicals, sales of $273 million increased 12%, driven by higher selling prices, especially in soda ash, and volume growth in soda ash and specialty peroxygens. Segment earnings of $48.1 million increased 19% as the result of the sales gains, favorable export mix in soda ash and the continued mix shift in peroxygens towards specialties markets.
Taking a look at total company sales on a regional basis in the first quarter. Sales in Latin America demonstrated the highest growth rate, up 38%, driven by Agricultural Products as a result of the strong finish through the crop season in Brazil and sales from a new market access joint venture in Argentina. We also increased soda ash exports to the region and realized healthy sales growth in BioPolymer.
Sales growth in North America was strong, about [ph] 14%. Sales in Agricultural Products benefited from healthy demand for pre-emergent herbicide, new product introduction and the shift of some sales from the second quarter due to an early start of the 2012 season. Industrial Chemicals benefited from higher selling prices across all businesses in the region.
Sales in Asia were also up 14% in the quarter. Drivers of this growth were broad-based, with gains in Agricultural Products, soda ash exports and in food and pharmaceuticals businesses in BioPolymer.Sales in EMEA were up 8% as greater penetration in peroxygens market, sales gains in BioPolymer's pharmaceuticals business and higher sales of herbicide and fungicide in Agricultural Products all contributed to the increase. As you know, we are focusing on increasing our presence in the rapidly developing economies of the world, RDEs, as we refer to them internally. Looking at sales growth in these economies by region shows good progress being made. Sales in Latin America grew 38%; sales in Asian RDEs grew 13%; sales in Middle East & Africa grew 14%; and sales in Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey grew more modestly at 5%, mainly due to timing effects in the quarter. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com