Barry Callebaut has expressed confidence that it would meet its financial forecasts in its current financial year despite its first-quarter volumes falling below target.

The Swiss chocolate maker reported a 2.6% increase in volumes for the three months to the end of November, the first quarter of its current financial year.

Barry Callebaut has a target of achieving average annual volume growth of 6-8% between 2009/10 and 2012/13. However, lower volumes from the company's global sourcing and cocoa division, plus weak consumer confidence in Europe, affected the group's volumes in the first quarter.

Nevertheless, the group said it had "outperformed" the global chocolate market, citing data from Nielsen that said industry volumes fell 0.7% between September and November.

Barry Callebaut reported a 4.1% fall in first-quarter sales to CHF1.27bn (US$1.34bn) due to the strength of the Swiss franc. When measured in local currencies, sales increased 5%.

Looking ahead, CEO Juergen Steinemann said Barry Callebaut was "confident" about meeting its targets.

"We recently saw growth picking up in our key markets. Based on our underlying business in combination with the implementation of strategic projects, we are confident we will reach our financial targets," Steinemann said yesterday (17 January).

Barry Callebaut also has a target of achieving average annual EBIT growth of 6-8%. The company will report its half-year results in April.

The firm also announced a new supply deal with Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo yesterday. Barry Callebaut will supply Bimbo with 32,000 tonnes of chocolate a year to use in products on sale in Mexico.