Barry Callebaut reports impact of coronavirus on its results and points to trading recovery

The Barry Callebaut Group has reported a notable impact on its operations operations from the coronavirus pandemic in its latest trading report, yet its CEO Antoine De Saint- Affrique noted an encouraging pattern of recovery.

Sales revenues were CHF 5.2 billion for the first nine months of its 2019/2020 financial year (ending May 2020), which was up 0.4% in global currencies and – 4.4% in Swiss Francs, as a result of the ongoing challenges faced by the sector amid the continuing virus situation.

Consequently, production volumes for the Swiss-headquartered cocoa processing and chocolate company fell by 14.3% for the third financial quarter, to 1,568,878 tonnes, equating to a 1.3% group sales volume dip for the first three quarters. Furthermore, global cocoa volumes were down –14.6% in the third quarter and remained flat for the nine-month period under review (–0.7%).

Despite the added complexity of present trading conditions, the business reported that there were signs its revenues were recovering as nations around the world began to lift restrictions in many instances from last month.

In June, the group reported a gradual sales volume recovery, as governments started to lift their COVID-19 measures. These early signs of recovery are visible both in Food Manufacturers and Gourmet & Specialties, albeit at a different pace. Significantly, the company said that owing to precautionary measures and commitment of its employees, the business has been able to keep its operations running and maintain a high level of service to its customers.

In terms of its relevant actions, the business confirmed that it had adopted precautionary measures early on to provide safe working environments for its staff in order to maintain business continuity. In addition to the group’s already strict hygiene standards, additional measures were put in place in factories, offices, laboratories and distribution centres. These measures include new hygiene protocols, social distancing on the work floor, remote working and limitation of travel. The group also supported its employees in adjusting to new conditions.

CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique, pictured at the launch of the company’s Wholefruit Chocolate in San Francisco, said: “We are confident we should rapidly regain momentum as markets are gradually reopening. This confidence is bolstered by the quality of our customer relationships, the breadth of our business model, as well as our strong innovation pipeline and balance sheet. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major unforeseen event which will have a negative impact on fiscal year 2019/20.

“This is why we update our mid-term guidance, excluding fiscal year 2019/20 and introducing increased metrics of, on average for the three-year period 2020/21 to 2022/23, +5-7% volume growth and EBIT above volume growth in local currencies, barring any major unforeseeable events.”

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