The group announced that sales fell 6.4 per cent in 2009 as warm temperatures and the economic downturn inhibited consumer indulgence in chocolate.
The decline in sales compared to 2008 was spread equally across the domestic and export markets, said the assocation of Swiss chocolate makers. Meanwhile, it claimed, the share of imported chocolate consumed on the home market rose to 33.6 per cent, compared to the previous year's figure of 30.9 per cent.
In a year-on-year comparison, sales went down 5.9 per cent to 174,109 tonnes while turnover across the industry dropped by 6.4 per cent to reach CHF 1,702m (€1,160m), stated Chocosuisse.
“The slightly disproportionate decline in sales turnover as opposed to the change in sales quantity indicates a shift in demand towards lower-priced products,” it said.
Of total production, 60.7 per cent was sold abroad compared to 60.3 per cent in 2008, added the group.
Domestic sales of the Swiss chocolate manufacturers amounted to 68,375 tonnes, which was 6.9 per cent lower than the previous year. Moreover, said Chocosuisse, a fall in the number of tourists also had a negative effect on the sale of chocolate products, as it resulted in fewer purchases of chocolate souvenirs.
The best growth rates were achieved with small chocolate bars, with these up 3 per cent. Festive products also recorded growth, up 2.5 per cent.
Chocosuisse maintains that the lowering purchasing power of the consumers in related markets as well as the continuing strength of the Swiss Franc impacted export sales.
Swiss chocolate products suffered setbacks in the EU as a whole with a fall of 2.2 per cent in volume and of 8 per cent in sales value, it said. “The main reason for this fall in demand can again be located in Germany, which took 9.7 per cent less in chocolate deliveries compared to 2008. This translates into an overall loss in sales value of 13 per cent,” continued Chocosuisse.
Most of Switzerland's chocolate exports go to Germany, followed by Britain, France and the US.
Exports dropped 5.2 percent to 106,000 metric tons (116,850 US tons) - amounting to 60 per cent of Switzerland's annual chocolate production. Meanwhile, outside the EU, Chocosuisse said that the industry was able to notch up impressive sales increases in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and China.
And notable gains, it added. were delivered for Swiss chocolate makers in terms of the sales of semi-manufactured products such as coatings, which were up 10.8 per cent.
But Swiss chocolate makers still managed to shift 174,000 metric tons (191,800 US tons) of bars, pralines and Easter eggs worth €1.15 last year. The industry employs 4,316 people.