"It would make sense in the premium to super premium field to add a brand. So far we are looking at various opportunities and we have not clearly identified any kind or target," chairman Andreas Schmid said in an interview with Reuters.
Barry Callebaut has made its name as a leading producer of ingredients for the chocolate industry, but in recent years it has started to increase its presence in the finished product sector. Now the company's activities span the whole chocolate-making process, from cocoa bean processing, right through to the finished product.
However the company now considers that the increasing lure of the consumer sector is too good to miss, with higher margins showing greater potential for bigger profits.
However Schmid did stress one thing: the fact that the company would not be making any bids for luxury Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli is not a target. He did say that other such chocolate makers would definitely be a consideration.
"There are certain limits to how much you can leverage your balance sheet. If we decide on a bigger acquisition, we would have to probably consider strengthening equity," Schmid was quoted as saying.
In its six monthly results, published at the beginning of April, Barry Callebaut gave no indication that it intended to be acquisitive in the coming year. At the time CEO Patrick De Maesenerie said the company intended to continue its focus on margins as well as going for greater efficiency.
He also said that it intended to turn around its consumer business, "with strong determination". The company now has extensive consumer interests in both the North American and European markets, which are represented by two separate divisions. The company earmarked CHF80 million ($52.1m) to restructure the European division in the 2001/2002 period.
Last year Barry Callebaut achieved sales of CHF 3.6 billion for the fiscal year 2002/2003. Currently it employs 9,000 people in 30 production facilities spread over 17 countries.