ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — First-quarter sales at Swiss cocoa and chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut AG rose 2% behind a 7% improvement in sales volume. Sales revenue for the first quarter was 1,450.2 million Swiss francs ($1,423.8 million), which compared with 1,429.1 million Swiss francs during the same period a year ago.

Sales volumes rose 7% to 362,973 tonnes, driven by success in all regions, but specifically in Asia, up 18%, and Americas, up 16%.

“We are very pleased about our significant sales volume growth in the first three months of our current fiscal year,” said Juergen B. Steinemann, chief executive officer. “After a volume contraction of the global chocolate market by more than 2% in the past fiscal year in the wake of the worldwide economic crisis, we believe the decline has bottomed out and expect the global chocolate market to remain flat in volume terms in 2010.

“We attribute our own success in this tough economic environment to the ongoing implementation of previously signed outsourcing deals, the strong sales performance of our Gourmet & Specialties products as well as market share gains in all regions.”

In Region Americas, sales revenue increased 4% to 248.5 million Swiss francs ($244.1 million). Sales volumes in the region rose 16% to 76,816 tonnes, reflecting national accounts, the further implementation of existing outsourcing agreements in Mexico as well as sales to gourmet customers, in particular to bakeries and large confectioners.