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Barry Callebaut expects chocolate recovery to continue after solid Q1

[ZURICH] Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut said it expected the market recovery to continue after sales volumes rose 8 per cent in its first quarter ended Nov 30, helped by easy comparables and renewed global appetite for confectionery.

The global chocolate confectionery sales volume grew 3.1 per cent in the three months to October, according to Nielsen data, and Barry Callebaut is also benefiting from big food groups like Nestle and Mondelez outsourcing chocolate production for their ice cream and snacks.

"We have good visibility on our sales portfolio and expect the market recovery to continue," Barry Callebaut chief executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company is on track to deliver on its mid-term guidance for average volume growth of 4 per cent-6 per cent, he added.

Sales volumes at the Zurich-based company, which recently launched a pink chocolate variety marketed as "ruby" chocolate, rose 8 per cent to 532,165 tonnes in the three months from September to November, ahead of a Reuters poll forecast for 6.3 per cent growth.

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Sales revenue declined by 0.7 per cent to 1.872 billion Swiss francs (S$2.57 billion), falling short of a forecast for 1.925 billion francs, impacted by lower cocoa and other raw material prices.

Sales volumes in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) rose 10.3 per cent, helped by additional volumes from an outsourcing deal with Mondelez, while Asia Pacific recorded 17.4 per cent volume growth. The Americas region, which had been sluggish recently, saw 2.9 per cent volume growth.

"Good start into the year for Barry. All signals continue to be on green for Barry," Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said in a note.


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