Barry Callebaut has taken a strategic decision to exit the consumer chocolate business and focus on its industrial operations. But a plan to sell its consumer interests, including the Alprose and Sarotti brands, to Natra in exchange for a 45-49 per cent minority stake fell through in September.
However, Juergen Steinemann, in an article in Finanz und Wirtschaft, said inquiries concerning the consumer operation had been ‘brisk’ from both industry and private equity.
Steinemann said he expects Barry Callebaut to carry on outperforming the global chocolate market, fuelled by food manufacturers continuing to outsource their chocolate production, as well as continued expansion into emerging markets.
Earlier this month, chocolate maker Barry Callebaut reported increased profits and sales volumes for the full 2008/09 fiscal year, despite shrinking global chocolate consumption.
The company reported an improvement in net profits for the year ended August 31, 2009 of 10.4 per cent, reaching CHF226.9m (€150m), and a 4.1 per cent increase in sales volumes, to 1,213,610 tonnes.
Nonetheless, Steinemann did revise earlier predictions for the next three years slightly downwards, forecasting volume and sales growth of 6 to 8 per cent as opposed to previous estimates of 9 to11 per cent and 11 to14 per cent respectively.
Steinemann said: “I am pleased that we were able to deliver strong top-line and bottom-line growth in the face of a rarely seen global chocolate consumption decline. After reaching a low in winter 2008, growth resumed and regained momentum in the second half of the year… We expect the economic environment to remain challenging and volatile.”