Chocolate maker Barry Callebaut's sales volumes rose slightly in the three months to the end of November despite the challenging market environment of record-high cocoa prices, the world's biggest chocolate maker said.
The company, which supplies chocolate for the Magnum ice creams made by Unilever and for Nestlé's KitKat bars, said sales volumes increased by 0.4% to 580,876 tonnes versus the 578,300 tonnes estimated in the company-provided median consensus.
Sales increased by 14% in local currencies (up 6.1% in Swiss francs) to CHF 2.24 billion (€2.4 billion) as the group passed on some of the increase in raw material prices by offering more private-label products, Barry Callebaut added.
"Barry was able to deliver on market expectations, which is key in this challenging period of rebuilding investor trust", Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said, adding the company has undertaken "significant" refinancing measures to address rising cocoa prices.
In November, prices for cocoa beans on the New York exchange (ICE) hit the highest in 46 years due to a supply deficit caused by adverse weather, tree illnesses and capacity shortages.
'With the recent weaker-than-expected cocoa bean harvest data from West Africa, the cocoa price development continues to remain uncertain. The group foresees an industry-wide impact on working capital requirements,' the company said in a statement.
To address the cocoa price development, the chocolate maker issued a CHF 600 million (€635.3 million) bond to refinance its €450 million ($488.84 million) debt due in mid-May.
The firm hasn't changed its 2023/2024 outlook despite higher prices and continues to guide for flat volumes and EBIT.
Peter Feld, CEO of the Barry Callebaut Group stated, "We are investing in areas most important for our customers which will make Barry Callebaut stronger and more resilient with our strategic investment programme, BC Next Level, which positions the group for sustainable profitable growth and allows for a more attractive financial profile.
"The implementation of BC Next Level is well underway with our new operating model announced and new leadership team in place and the majority of the planned measures already initiated."
News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM.