Barry Callebaut has delivered strong sales and profit growth in its full-year results, outpacing the general market for chocolate.

The Swiss group reported the growth despite the strength of the Swiss franc, which the company said had a negative impact on revenues, operating profit and net profit.

In local currencies, sales revenue grew by 8.5% and came in at CHF4.88bn (US$4.83bn).

Barry Callebaut cited operational improvements and cost savings for a rise in operating profit, which came despite the effect of a lower combined cocoa ratio.

Operating profit increased by 9.5% in local currencies; in Swiss francs, the increase was 2.8% to CHF350.8m. Net profit for the year went up 18.5% in local currencies; in Swiss francs, it grew by 10.4% to CHF226.9m.

“In sharp contrast to the global chocolate market, which contracted by more than 2% in volume in 2008/09, Barry Callebaut succeeded in growing its sales volume by 4.1%. The company attributes its growth to three factors: its early expansion into emerging and high-growth markets, the implementation of outsourcing deals, and market share gains,” a statement said.

CEO Juergen Steinemann said: "I am pleased that we were able to deliver strong top-line and bottom-line growth in the face of a rarely seen global chocolate consumption decline. After reaching a low in winter 2008, growth resumed and regained momentum in the second half of the year.

"Our growth strategy based on the three pillars of geographic expansion, innovation and cost leadership, coupled with our robust business model, our diversified product offering and ongoing efficiency improvement initiatives, clearly stood the test of the global economic recession."

Looking ahead, Steinemann said: “We expect the economic environment to remain challenging and volatile. For the three-year period 2009/10 through 2011/12, we therefore target on average 6-8% volume growth per annum and average EBIT growth at least in line with volume growth.

"In the current fiscal year 2009/10, operating profit (EBIT) will be affected by the unfavorable combined cocoa ratio but we expect to deliver strong net profit growth (PAT) again. With our three-year financial targets we will continue to significantly outperform the global chocolate market – as always barring any major unforeseen events and based on local currencies.”

For the complete Barry Callebaut full-year statement, click here