|Lindt is the world’s leading premium chocolate maker. — AFP Photo
ZURICH — Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli is seeking to lure more sweet-toothed consumers in Japan, China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia, where the group said Tuesday it enjoys "enormous potential".
Lindt, a leader in the affordable luxury chocolate segment, said in its annual report that subsidiaries in those five countries had produced "an above average result" in 2017, with organic growth of 12.4 per cent.
"This positive trend is being fuelled by consumers’ growing demand for quality, greater purchasing power and also a growing desire for chocolate with a high cocoa content," Lindt said.
People gave into their temptation for Lindt chocolate elsewhere as well, with global net profits rising 7.8 per cent from 2016.
Meanwhile, sales hit an all-time record for the 175-year-old company of more than 4 billion Swiss francs (US$4.3 billion).
Lindt feted an improved market situation for key raw materials – cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar -- with "much better harvests in 2016/17, allowing the previous record-high prices to ease back to normal levels".
That should allay chocolate lovers’ fears of an imminent crisis for their favourite treat.
It was good news all round, bar in the United States, the world’s largest chocolate market but a weaker one for Lindt, where company sales dipped slightly, it said.
The dip came even as Lindt sought to attract customers with new packaging and discounts over Christmas, and with the relaunch of a sugar-free chocolate line.
Globally, Lindt said that while it projects six to eight per cent long term growth, its expectations for 2018 were lower at five per cent.
Part of the reason why the master chocolatier’s outlook is not at its full potential is a decline in sales from one of its US brands, Russell Stovier.
Suspecting that Lindt may be biting off more than it can chew in the American market, some analysts said the picture was somewhat bittersweet.
"These solid results are eclipsed by a disappointing growth forecast for 2018," said Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Vontobel, a financial services firm. — AFP