The Swiss firm reported that first-half net income to February this year rose 10 per cent to SF83.6 million (€53.3m) helped by acquisitions in its consumer chocolate unit, which offset the impact of low cocoa prices on its processing business.
"Barry Callebaut has continued to grow more than twice as fast as the global chocolate market," said Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Barry Callebaut.
Operating income rose 15 per cent to SF149.8 million in the six months to the end of January on sales 15 per cent higher at SF2.2 billion, the Zurich-based firm said, helped by the acquisition of US confectionery company Brach's and Belgian-Dutch chocolate group Luijckx, which expanded its consumer business.
The chocolate firm that processes some 520,000 tonnes of cocoa annually out of a market of 3.1 million tonnes has cut back on this side of the business, impacted by current low cocoa prices on the market.
"Over the last month we have continued to experience steady origin arrivals from Africa that have surpassed earlier expectations. This has culminated in an unbearable cocoa hedging weight on the market and a fund sell off below 900 reaching a two year low at 801, " a trader at UK firm Sucden told FoodNavigator.com.Cocoa futures prices hit 17-year highs above 1,600 pounds a tonne at the pinnacle of the civil war in the world's top producer Ivory Coast in late 2002, but have been declining since then.
"What has become clear in the midst of Ivorian political unrest is that if the commodity has a value then it will always come out of these troubled origins and even during the civil war years we have experienced bumper crops from the ivory coast," added the trader.
On Friday April 2, cocoa futures closed at 811 on LIFFE.
"Despite some improvement in the last couple of weeks, (current cocoa prices) make it very difficult for farmers to make a living," Patrick De Maeseneire told journalists and analysts.
A recent report, The European Confectionery Market to 2007, from market analysts Datamonitor shows that Britain is far ahead of its Continental rivals when it comes to chocolate consumption, accounting for 32 per cent of the total market by value in 2003 - estimated at €5.6 billion.
Datamonitor's report suggests that there will be little change in consumption patterns in the west, with the UK likely to still lead the market by 2007 despite concerns about the worsening state of the nation's health.
Sales growth in confectionery across Europe, claims the report, will slow down showing an increase of just 4 per cent.