German 2012 chocolate output down, 2013 outlook uncertain-lobby

Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:26am EST

* German 2012 chocolate sales, exports drop

* 2013 outlook unclear on euro zone crisis

HAMBURG Jan 22 (Reuters) - German 2012 output of all types of chocolate products fell 1.1 percent on the year to 1.02 million tonnes as producers suffered falling exports and rising commodity prices, the German confectionery industry association BDSI said on Tuesday.

Sales by value in 2012 rose 2.1 percent on the year to 5.02 billion euros largely because of higher raw materials prices, the BDSI said. Cocoa futures rose some 6 percent in 2012.

Chocolate exports fell 0.9 percent on the year to 480,000 tonnes, the BDSI estimated.

The outlook for 2013 remains "highly challenging" with the euro zone crisis creating great risks for Germany's confectionery industry, it said. Some 85 percent of German confectionery exports go to the EU, it said.

Germany's chocolate and confectionery industry suffered the dual pressures of rising commodity costs and the unwillingness of Germany's powerful retail chains to accept price increases, the BDSI said.

"It was often difficult to pass price increases on to food retailers, so that rising commodity costs mostly had to be absorbed by the confectionery producers," it said.

The industry was especially hit by poor sugar supplies and high prices caused by the EU's sugar market restrictions, it said.

The EU restricts output of subsidised crops such as sugar with production quotas.

EU reforms cut sugar production quotas below the bloc's consumption and high world prices made it difficult for European consumers to import, creating sugar shortages in some EU countries last year.

"The supply shortages and increased commodity prices in the EU sugar market in 2012 contributed to factory closures and takeovers," the BDSI said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Keiron Henderson)