Columbian chocolate company Grupo Nacional de Chocolates posted a jump in sales during fiscal 2008, thanks to acquisitions and organic growth.

Sales increased 16.2% to US$4bn. Excluding the impact of acquisitions sales were up 15.5%, the company revealed.

Grupo Nacional de Chocolates’ international units posted the strongest growth, with sales rising 35.5% over 2009. At the close of 2008, 27.8% of group sales were outside of Colombia.

Consolidated EBITDA rose 7.8%, to $569.8m. However, the company admitted that higher raw materials costs had weighed on profitability, with margins dropping to 14.2% of sales.

During 2008, the company acquired Ernesto Berard in Panama; integrated its distribution networks Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua; and created a healthy-eating research centre – Vidariumm – to enhance its research capabilities

At the end of January this year, Grupo Nacional de Chocolates acquired Mexican chocolateer Nutresa. The deal was completed on 17 March.