Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut boosts profit

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The world biggest industrial chocolate producer, Swiss firm Barry Callebaut, on Thursday announced a 10.9 percent increase in its annual net profit despite high cocoa prices and the strong Swiss currency.

Net profit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year ending in August reached 251.7 million Swiss francs (256 million dollars, 183 million euros), the chocolate giant said in a statement.

"Market conditions were challenging with a still rather fragile world economy, a flat global chocolate market, high raw material prices and important currency fluctuations," said chief executive Juergen Steinemann.

"We believe that growth will continue to pick up, albeit with geographic variations," he added, predicting high and volatile raw material prices.

Annual sales grew by 6.8 percent, reaching 5.2 billion francs, while sales volume grew by 7.6 percent to 1.3 million tonnes over the same period.

Barry Callebaut operates 40 plants in 26 countries, with business ranging from cocoa production to raw chocolate supplies and finished chocolates for other brands.

The chocolate group announced one of its biggest supply deals in September with US food giant Kraft foods, aiming to double their cooperation. It also opened its first chocolate factory in South America, in Brazil.

© 2010 AFP

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