ZURICH Barry Callebaut (BARN.S), the world's biggest maker of chocolate and cocoa products, reported lower-than-expected revenue for September to November due to lower prices for its cocoa ingredients.
Sales revenue fell 0.6 percent to 1.248 billion Swiss francs ($1.35 billion), short of a forecast for 1.38 billion francs in a Reuters poll, while sales volumes beat expectations with an 8.3 percent rise to 388,160 metric tons.
Barry Callebaut, which makes chocolate for Nestle NESN.VX and Kraft Foods KRFT.O, said revenue at its global sourcing and cocoa business had fallen 12.1 percent as sales prices were lower at the time the business was contracted.
It said the growth of that business, which accounts for almost a third of revenue, was dented by expansion at some factories, as well as higher internal demand for cocoa powder, which limited sales to third parties.
Chief Executive Juergen Steinemann confirmed the group's medium-term growth targets, which aim for 6-8 percent average volume growth and earnings before 2014/15.interest and tax (EBIT) at least in line with that through to
Chocolate makers have seen an improvement in demand for their products as cash-strapped European seek solace in sweet treats. Swiss peer Lindt & Spruengli (LISP.S) reported a 7.3 percent rise in full-year sales on Tuesday.
Barry Callebaut said in December it was taking over the cocoa business of Singaporean group Petra Foods PEFO.SI to reduce its dependence on West African beans as it expands in emerging markets.
($1 = 0.9277 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Louise Heavens)