Barry Callebaut focuses on Chinese profits Attempting to harness the growing demand for confectionery in Asia, Barry Callebaut hopes to increase sales in China sixfold with the inauguration of its new factory. As previously reported by ConfectioneryNews.com, the Swiss-based chocolate firm opened a new Chinese manufacturing plant near Shanghai to cater for local trade buyers from the food industry, hotels and restaurants. "China will be our key target market in Asia for the next coming years," said chief executive officer Patrick De Maeseneire. The company today said it hopes to profit from the dynamic growth rates of the Chinese chocolate market, expected to grow 8.8 per cent per annum in the next five years, compared to 2 to 3 per cent for the global chocolate market. "The development speed of urban areas along the belt from Beijing to Shanghai and to Hong Kong is breathtaking," said De Maeseneire. "There alone, we are talking of about 500 million potential chocolate consumers who start traveling, who are open to novelties including new foods and who have enough disposable income to buy chocolate."Cadbury denies Australian beverage sale Global confectionery firm Cadbury has denied claims that it is considering selling its Australian and New Zealand beverages. Company spokesperson Katie Bolton said that rumours of the sale, started by local newspapers, were mere speculation. The rumours of the sale started to circulate last month, after the firm decided to offload its US beverage arm, which will list on the New York Stock Exchange early this year, in order to concentrate on confectionery products. The company first filed the demerger proposals in November after deciding against original plans to sell the division, describing debt market conditions as "unfavourable". Cadbury's future plans are, however, uncertain, as the Trian investment group, which has a controlling 4.5 per cent stake in the company, recently accused management of not being aggressive enough with its future plans. In a letter sent to the board, Trian said it supported the US demerger proposals, but viewed the changes as "too little improvement over too long a time." The group, led by active investor Nelson Peltz, also threatened to take matters out of management's hands its own requests are not met. Rocky Mountain Q3 profits drop The US-based Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory yesterday reported a five per cent decrease in income to $2,020m during the third quarter 2007, blamed on poor sales from the company's own factories. Company sales decreased by nine per cent during the period ending November 30 2007, while sales from franchised retail outlets dropped by the smaller figure of 2.6 per cent. However, chief operating and financial operator Bryan Merryman still predicts record revenues for fiscal year 2008, as the company has opened several more franchise outlets in 2007, and anticipates continuing with this course of action. "New store openings accelerated in the most recent quarter, with franchisees opening 14 new stores" he said. "An additional four to nine stores are scheduled to open in January and February, bringing the number of store openings for the fiscal year to 34 to 39." The Colorado based Rocky Mountain Chocolate franchises chocolate and confectionery stores, as well as manufacturing premium chocolates itself. It operates over 300 stores in the US, Canada and United Arab Emirates.