Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut has indicated it could sell its North American consumer business Brach.

Callebaut said earlier this year that the continued unsatisfactory performance of its North American consumer business had prompted the company to put it under review.

As it announced its nine-month sales figures today (28 June), Callebaut said: "Barry Callebaut is now actively pursuing several options including a joint venture, a partial or a full sale of the Brach's business. Following expressions of interest, Barry Callebaut management believes that a sale is the most favourable outcome."

Brach accounts for more than three-quarters of the turnover at the company's consumer products division in North America.

Callebaut's sales volumes in the Americas increased only slightly from 224,246 tonnes to 224,643 tonnes for the nine months to 31 May. Sales fell 4.5% to CHF760.3m (US$618.5m).

Excluding the Brach's consumer business in North America, group volumes rose by 7.4% and sales revenues by 6.1%, the company added.

Group volumes rose 6% Callebaut reported. Sales revenues rose by 4.1% to CHF3.3bn.

"I am very pleased that Barry Callebaut continued on its growth path and was again able to substantially outpace the growth of the global chocolate market in the first nine months of the current fiscal year," said Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire.

"During this period, we won three major supply contracts with prestigious international consumer goods companies Nestlé, Hershey and Cadbury. Thanks to our global presence from the bean to the shelf and our innovative strength, we have been able to establish ourselves as the outsourcing partner of choice in the chocolate industry."

Across other regions, Callebaut's European division posted volume growth of 8.4% on the back of "good demand from industrial and artisanal customers". Sales in Europe rose by 5.9% to CHF2.3bn.

Callebaut's Asia & Rest of the World division recorded volume growth of 6.9% with revenues rising by 19.6% to CHF239.7m.