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Callebaut confident in face of flat chocolate market

By Jess Halliday , 13-Jan-2010

The worst of the global economic crisis on chocolate is over but global market volumes will remain flat throughout 2010, predicts Barry Callebaut – which itself is expecting to outperform the market.

The Switzerland-based industrial chocolate company today reported a 7.2 per cent increase in sales volumes in the three months prior to 30 November 2009, to 362,973 metric tonnes. Sales in local currencies were up 6.3 per cent, but 1.5 per cent in its reporting currency, to CHF 1,429.1.

CEO Juergen Steinemann said the company is “very pleased” with this result.

“We attribute our own success in this tough economic environment to the ongoing implementation of previously signed outsourcing deals, the strong sales performance of our Gourmet & Specialties products as well as market share gains in all regions,” he said.

He expects the company will continue to outperform the market, based on its growth strategy and order book. Barry Callebaut’s three year growth targets through to 2011/12 are for an average of 6 to 8 per cent volume growth, and EBIT growth in local currencies at least in line with this – barring unforeseen circumstances.

The global chocolate market experienced a decline of more than 2 per cent in the past fiscal year, Steinemann said. He believes the decline has now bottomed out.

The Western European market appears to have stabilised at a low level, but Eastern Europe, and especially Russia, is not yet showing signs of recovery.

Although still fragile, signs of recovery are evident in Asia; and US chocolate market appears to have bottomed out, but is not yet on its way back up.

Price matters

The global chocolate market is also in the grip of advancing cocoa prices. In December prices reached a 33 year high in London due to fund buying and worries over the size of the 2009/10 crop from Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Dairy prices, meanwhile, have last started to fall since the highs of last August; but sugar prices have risen and are now close to EU-regulated levels, says Barry Callebaut.

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