ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Behind double-digit increases in its Gourmet & Specialties segment, Barry Callebaut AG achieved volume and sales figures in fiscal-year 2020-21 that compared well with the company’s figures in 2018-19, or before COVID-19 hit.

Sales volume of 2.19 million tonnes was up 4.6% from 2.10 million tonnes in 2019-20 and up 2.4% from 2.14 million tonnes in 2018-19. Sales revenue of 7.21 billion Swiss francs ($7.83 billion) was up 4.6% from 6.89 billion Swiss francs in 2019-20 but down 1.4% from 7.31 billion Swiss francs in 2018-19. Net profit for the year rose 23% in 2020-21 to 384.5 million Swiss francs ($417.5 million) from 311.5 million Swiss francs in 2019-20. The figure also marked a 4.3% increase from 368.7 million Swiss francs in 2018-19.

 In Gourmet & Specialties, volume rose 18% from 2019-20 levels to reach 247,357 tonnes. Revenue increased 18% to 1.13 billion Swiss francs. In 2018-19, Gourmet & Specialties achieved volume of 248,771 tonnes and revenue of 1.16 billion Swiss francs. The Gourmet & Specialties team looked at the pandemic as an opportunity, adding 3,000 new customers over the past year, said Peter Boone, chief executive officer, in a Nov. 10 earnings call.  

“They have looked at, of course, where the market was going down, the distribution channels were going in lockdown, and they were forced to look at other segments, other customers, other regions to grow,” he said.

Ben De Schryver, chief financial officer, added, “Our gourmet business is a business of artisans. It's a business of foodservice. It is a business of small- and medium-sized companies. So it is a large pool of clients, and it's very important as well in different segments.”

Extending a supply partnership with the Hershey Co. boosted results in the Americas region, where sales increased 8% to 610,133 tonnes and sales revenue increased 4% to 1.83 billion Swiss francs.

Zurich-based Barry Callebaut dealt with higher input costs in 2020-21. The world market price for sugar increased by 22% on average due to strong demand from China and a poor Brazilian crop, according to the company. Dairy prices increased by 12% on average due to strong demand in Asia as well as growing concerns around milk supply, logistical bottlenecks, higher energy prices and inflation.

One exception was cocoa, where bean prices on average declined by 7% because of a surplus

“The market environment remains volatile, with global cocoa supply and demand out of balance due to good crops in the main cocoa-producing countries on the one hand and the decreased demand as a result of COVID-19 pandemic on the other hand,” Mr. De Schryver said. “The average combined ratio remained about stable compared to prior year with very resilient cocoa powder prices while cocoa butter prices were under pressure related to the lower demand for chocolate due to COVID-19, the pandemic. The smart growth execution and our improved position, thanks to our cocoa leadership project helped us to absorb these market fluctuations better while we are not completely immune against them.”