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Exports keep chocolate manufacturers sweet

Three out of eight chocolate bars consumed in Switzerland were imported Keystone

Global sales of Swiss chocolate increased last year, but consumption at home dropped. Switzerland’s chocolate manufacturers are also worried about a sticky 2015 as a result of the strong franc and expensive raw materials. 

This content was published on February 24, 2015 - 16:46
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Switzerland’s 18 manufacturers sold a total of 183,738 tonnes of chocolate last year, 4,900 tonnes more than in 2013. As a result, turnover increased by 2.7% to CHF1.72 billion ($1.81 billion). 

At home, however, the 68,264 tonnes sold was 1.4% less than in 2013. This converts into a per capita consumption of  “only” 11.7kg, down 300g. Despite this, turnover in Switzerland climbed by 1.8% to CHF907 million. 

One noticeable trend is that the proportion of imported chocolate eaten within Switzerland has almost doubled over the past 15 years to 37.5% - so three bars out of eight were made abroad. 

Brighter news for manufacturers was the 5.3% increase in exports to 115,474 tonnes. Foreign turnover rose 3.7% to CHF821 million. 

Double-digit growth was seen in Canada, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, China, Brazil, Russia and Singapore. 

Within Europe, increased demand was recorded in Italy and Belgium in particular. However, negative figures were seen in the two main European export markets: Germany (turnover -7%) and Britain (-3%). 

Tough climate

 The economic environment is currently tough for Swiss chocolate manufacturers: the national bank’s decision on January 15 to scrap the cap on the franc against the euro caused the franc to surge, hurting exports across the board and increasing pressure from imports.

 In addition, Swiss manufacturers say they face a considerable competitive disadvantage as a result of the price of raw materials when doing business abroad. They are therefore calling on politicians to make the “necessary changes”, such as more free-trade agreements and less red tape. 

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