Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has backed its forecast of double digit operating income growth for 2003/04 and said it is keeping an eye out for an acquisition in the premium chocolate sector.

The company has been reducing its focus on chocolate processing in the last few years, turning its attention to the more lucrative consumer and gourmet chocolate segments.

“It would make sense in the premium to super premium field to add a brand. So far we are looking at various opportunities and we have not clearly identified any kind or target,” chairman Andreas Schmid told Reuters. 

Schmid said Swiss luxury chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli is not a target, but that Barry Callebaut is prepared to make a big acquisition.

“There are certain limits to how much you can leverage your balance sheet. If we decide on a bigger acquisition, we would have to probably consider strengthening equity,” Schmid was quoted as saying.