Lindt, Callebaut post strong sales figures

ZURICH Swiss chocolate makers Lindt & Spruengli and Barry Callebaut today are posting strong sales figures as both benefit from a growing taste for premium-quality products.

Full-year sales at Lindt & Spruengli, whose products include Lindor pralines and gold-wrapped Easter bunnies, are expected to rise 14 percent to $2.68 billion, thanks to buoyant demand in the United States and Britain. The group has benefited from increased consumer spending on indulgence foods and has tapped into a growing appetite for premium and dark chocolate, noting strong demand for its Creation 70 Percent and Excellence products.

Analysts expect the group’s sales figures to put a stop to the downward trend seen in its shares, which have lost some 15 percent this year amid fears the United States is heading toward a recession. The company said a U.S. slowdown would likely have only a limited impact on the chocolate market.

Meanwhile, shares in Barry Callebaut have shed only around 3.6 percent of the 42 percent gained in 2007 as investors appreciate the company’s clear business prospects. The world’s largest chocolate maker is expected to post an 8 percent rise in first-quarter sales to 1.34 billion francs, boosted by a trend among the largest food companies to outsource chocolate production as a result of soaring prices for ingredients. Barry Callebaut has won contracts from Nestle, Cadbury and Hershey Co. and the group has said this trend looks set to continue.

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