Cocoa price pressure continued in early weeks of 2014, Natra said

Cocoa price pressure continued in early weeks of 2014, Natra said

Spain-based chocolate supplier Natra has reported a first-quarter loss of EUR2.3m (US$3.2m), with the company pointing to rising cocoa prices.

Natra's loss for the first three months of 2014, compared to a profit of EUR180,000 a year earlier.

The group, which generates the bulk of its sales through supplying own-label products to European retailers, said the EBITDA from its cocoa and chocolate arm stood at EUR2.7m, versus EUR4.9m in the first quarter of 2013.

During last year, there had been a "significant rise" in cocoa prices, Natra said, a trend that continued in the early months of 2014. "Prices [reached] an initial maximum 1,898 pounds per tonne, the highest price since early September 2011," Natra said.

Sales from the division fell 1.6% to EUR75.7m. Revenue from consumer products dropped 3.9%, although sales of industrial products - ingredients - were up.

The company also said changing procurement dynamics in the pharmaceutical business had hit profits at ingredients business Natraceutical. Natra owns 49.8% of the firm.

Natra said it expects the profitability of its core cocoa and chocolate business to improve as supply contracts for Christmas start in June and production begins at a new plant in Canada.