Swiss chocolate group Barry Callebaut told just-food today (22 May) that it has targeted increased sales in the Chinese market to drive company-wide growth.

The world's largest chocolate-maker said that it hopes to grow sales in the market by six times by 2012.

The company believes that the market for chocolate in China will grow considerably in the coming years, a spokesperson for the group told just-food.

According to research by Euromonitor, the Chinese chocolate market offers a
dynamic growth potential of an expected 8.8% a year in the next five years.

To take advantage of this growth, Barry Callebaut has invested in production and distribution facilities for the region. Earlier this year, the company opened a new chocolate factory with an annual capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes.

"China will be our key target market in Asia for the next coming years. Today's consumption per capita may be low and may pick up only slowly in rural areas. But the development speed of urban areas along the belt from Beijing to Shanghai and to Hong Kong is breathtaking," Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Barry Callebaut, said.