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Chocolate sales soar in tough times

Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut says its net profit had soared 15.

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3 percent for the six months ending February, despite downturns in most other commodities across the globe.

Barry Callebaut, which is one of the world\’s biggest suppliers of cocoa to other chocolate-makers, said net profit reached 94.12 million euros for the period.

However, the environment would continue to be tough in the second half, with volatile exchange rates, outgoing chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire said.

“Softening cocoa butter prices will have an adverse effect on margins, which we intend to partly offset through continued efficiency gains and cost cutting,” he added.

Its earnings were nonetheless hit by the weakening of key currencies such as the euro, dollar and pound against the Swiss franc. In local currency terms, the growth in profit was 23.2 percent.

Revenues slid 1.6 percent to 2.54 billion francs on weaker consumer demand, particularly in North America and Europe.

“Many food manufacturers, artisans and retailers reduced their stocks in the wake of economic uncertainties and were reluctant to place new orders,” said the group.

Outgoing chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire noted however that the group had a “strong start” in its third quarter (March – May) due to a late Easter, with more orders than a year ago.

The group also announced that De Maeseneire would be leaving Barry Callebaut to become chief executive of Adecco, the employment group, from June 1.

Juergen Steinemann will be Barry Callebaut\’s new chief executive from August 1.

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