Sugar-free exports drive Swiss confectionery sales in 2004

Related tags European union International trade Obesity

Industry association Biscosuisse says that Swiss confectionery
sales have risen marginally in 2004, topping last year's
record-breaking turnover figure and notching up an increase in
domestic sales for the first time in four years, Tom Armitage

Swiss confectionery (referring to both domestic and export volumes) experienced a 1.5 per cent increase in 2004 to 24,766 tons, while turnover increased by 4.3 per cent to CHF287 million (€186 million).

According to Biscosuisse, every confectionery category notched-up a volume growth during 2004, with the exception of hard-boiled confectionery.

This category, representing around 68 per cent of all sales in the Swiss confectionery sector, fell marginally, adversely affected by the far-reaching European drive to tackle rising levels of obesity and dietary-related health problems.

Last week, Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé conceded that European sales of its core confectionery brands were still reeling from below par European sales - despite achieving annual sales growth across its chocolate, confectionery, and biscuit division of 3.2 per cent.

But while the obesity issue has compromised some confectioners' sales growth, Biscosuisse claims that it has led to a burgeoning demand for Swiss-manufactured sugar-free confectionery, particularly overseas.

In 2004, for instance, the sugar-free category alone accounted for 58 per cent of Switzerland's CHF186 million export trade (a 6.3 per cent increase on the previous year), despite volume sales registering a comparatively smaller increase of 2.1 per cent to 17,051 tons.

Meanwhile, it appears that Swiss-manufactured confectionery has inherited its chocolate compatriot's premium cachet overseas, notching up increased sales to Germany (which currently remains the largest foreign importer of Swiss confectionery products, accounting for 23.3 per cent of 2004 sales), while France and the US claimed respective shares of 20.1 and 19 per cent.

Biscosuisse also envisages 2005 will be another lucrative year for export sales, stemming from a free trade agreement negotiated with the European Union (EU) which came into effect at the beginning of last month.

Furthermore, as a country independent of the EU's sweeping agricultural policy reforms, Swiss confectioners will soon seek to capitalise on the abolition of single farm payments later this year - a move which will remove subsidies on fundamental confectionery ingredients (sugar, for instance) and open up the previously heavily protected EU confectionery and ingredients markets to external competition.

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