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Bitter year for chocolate industry

Sales of Swiss chocolate dropped by 5.9 per cent to 174,109 tonnes in 2009, the first fall for six years.

Turnover went down by 6.4 per cent to SFr1.702 billion ($1.6 billion), said the Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers (Chocosuisse) on Wednesday.

Of total production, 60.7 per cent was sold abroad, on a par with 60.3 per cent in 2008.

The decline in sales was spread equally across the domestic and export markets and was blamed by Chocosuisse on various factors: a warm spring and summer, a fall in the number of tourists, a lower purchasing power of foreign consumers, the continuing strength of the Swiss franc and a shift in demand towards lower-priced products.

The best growth rates were achieved with small chocolate bars (up 3.0 per cent) and with seasonal Easter and Christmas items (up 2.5 per cent).

Once more, Germany and its export share of 13.8 per cent topped the 140 export markets, ahead of Britain, France and the United States. However, Swiss chocolate suffered a setback in the European Union as a whole, mainly because of fewer deliveries in Germany.

Nevertheless there was good news elsewhere, with deliveries to Belgium up a third. Outside the EU, the industry notched up impressive sales increases in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and China.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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