Kraft Foods, the US food giant behind Toblerone and Milka chocolate, insisted today (19 October) that the global economy is showing signs of recovery and that "the worst is behind us".

Andreas Fehr, MD of Kraft's travel retail and European export businesses, echoed comments from Belgian chocolate maker Guylian that certain Asian markets in particular were looking stronger and said the economic downturn had reached its bottom.

However, speaking to just-food at the Tax Free World Association (TFWA) exhibition in Cannes, France, Fehr expressed doubts over whether a complete recovery would come quickly, suggesting that any recovery would be "U-shaped not V-shaped".

While the duty-free and travel-retail channel has seen sales slide amid falling passenger numbers, Fehr nonetheless explained he had confidence in the long-term trends of the sector.

"This is a resilient industry. We are in a growth industry; people want to travel and it is just a matter of people getting back the confidence to travel," Fehr said.

Kraft, which announced in April that it had made its travel-retail business a stand-alone unit is the largest confectioner in the channel by sales revenue, Fehr said, with Toblerone the largest brand in the business. Fehr said Toblerone has "almost 100% distribution" in travel retail worldwide.

"Travel retail is a separate legal entity. It's a sign of commitment from Kraft. We have been the pioneers in the category."