Despite price increases for the raw materials, Lindt has said there was no overall negative effect on costs. However, it said price increases are likely in order to cover further costs. "Lindt and Sprungli firmly believes that a price increase would be accepted by consumers because of Lindt's exclusive positioning in the premium chocolate segment and the unconditional product quality," the company said yesterday in its semi-annual report. In the six months to June 30, Lindt said its focus on the premier chocolate market and the increasing demand for luxury products has helped sales increase 15.7 per cent to CHF1.1bn (€0.7bn). The company said the increase in consumer wealth and spending following a drop in unemployment figures in Europe has helped sales in the premium chocolate market. Lindt said successful product segments include those with dark premium chocolates, taking advantage of the trend for chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. This follows recent research indicating the health benefits of chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa, including for the cardiovascular system. "In the pralines segment, Lindor balls continue their impressive success following the introduction of novel specialities such as a dark chocolate variant with 60 per cent cocoa, and are one of the most successful and best-known Lindt products worldwide," the company said. Lindt also noted growth of 16.2 per cent within the joint Europe and Middle East segments, with sales of CHF800.6m. Sales within individual countries above the market growth average, the company said. Lindt said sales growth was at a high double-digit level in the UK and were good in expanding markets such as Poland and Sweden. Sales for all four North and Latin America companies grew 14.5 per cent to CHF245.3m. This is partly due to the fast growth of the premium chocolate segment within USA and Canada due to an improved standard of living, helping sales of new products within this segment as well as products with a high cocoa content. These segments remain a focus for the company and it will invest in these areas for the future, Lindt said.