July 8, 2011 / 4:24 AM / 8 years ago

Rising cocoa prices worry chocolate makers -Barry Callebaut

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 8 (Reuters) - Barry Callebaut , the world’s largest chocolate maker, fears rising cocoa prices could lead to a slowdown in chocolate consumption, a company official told an industry conference in Indonesia on Friday.

Cocoa futures CCc2 soared to a 32-year top at $3,775 a tonne in early March after a deadly post-election conflict in the world’s largest producer, the Ivory Coast, fuelled fears of a civil war. But prices have since slipped as peace gradually returned.

In New York on Thursday, key September cocoa futures inched down $2 to settle at $3,186 a tonne.

“Obviously, it’s a big concern for us as a chocolate company, to see the price rise,” said Richard Fahey, vice-president for cocoa sales and marketing at Barry Callebaut, which makes chocolates for groups such as Nestle and Hershey .

“I think the biggest problem is the rapid increase. There is this very big fear that we could see consumption slowing.”

Last month, the firm reported that the first nine months of its fiscal year 2010/11 saw double-digit sales volume growth in Eastern Europe, Americas and Asia-Pacific that helped offset flat volumes in Western Europe, where the overall chocolate confectionery market declined by 2.1 percent.

Barry Callebaut, which said it expected the global chocolate market to grow above 2 percent, is also eyeing acquisitions in emerging markets and its gourmet business, which caters for professionals such as chocolatiers and pastry chefs.

Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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