COVID-19 crisis takes bite out of Swiss chocolate sales

FILE PHOTO: Lindor chocolate eggs of Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli are displayed during the annual news conference in Kilchberg, Switzerland March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss chocolate sales fell 14.3% in the first eight months of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic hit travel retail and the industry’s business with hotels and restaurants.

The decline was even more marked in the four months to August, at 21.5%, with both domestic sales and exports hit, industry association Chocosuisse said in a statement on Tuesday.

Over 70% of Swiss chocolate is exported, with business particularly affected this summer by the downturn in travel and tourism, said the association, which counts Barry Callebaut and Lindt & Spruengli among its members.

“In these important markets, no recovery is in sight even longer term,” Chocosuisse said.

Over the eight month period, domestic sales of Swiss chocolate also fell, while imports of chocolate made abroad increased, the association said, criticising high raw material prices in Switzerland due to “protectionist regulation”.

Switzerland’s chocolate industry generated sales of 1.787 billion Swiss francs ($1.97 billion) in 2019.

($1 = 0.9070 Swiss francs)

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Mark Potter