GENEVA - Swiss chocolates eased their way through the financial and economic crisis in 2008 with record sales for the fifth consecutive year, the industry association said Monday.
The national chocolate makers association, Chocosuisse, is also counting on further expansion abroad this year, after making "notable" inroads in India, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates in 2008.
Its 18 members sold 184,969 ton of chocolate worldwide last year, an increase of two percent over 2007, while overall turnover grew by 9.3 percent to 1.8 billion Swiss francs ($1.5 billion), Chocosuisse said in a statement.
Exports, especially of chocolate slabs, weathered the strong Swiss franc and the declining economic climate, accounting for 60 percent of sales, it added.
Despite traditional gourmet rivalry between Swiss and Belgian chocolates, Chocosuisse reported one of the biggest increases in Belgium with "remarkable" growth of 32 percent in sales volume.
Germans remained the biggest foreign consumers of Swiss chocolate (15 percent of exports), but their demand dropped by nearly a quarter. They were followed by the British (13 percent) and French (10 percent).
Nonetheless, they were all dwarfed by the Swiss, who eat their way throught 73,745 ton of their own chocolate and earned local manufacturers 894 million Swiss francs, just shy of the 924 million earned in the rest of the world.
Chocosuisse said the growth in overall earnings was partly down to an increase in raw materials prices.
Cocoa prices surged last year to break through $3,000 a ton in June, but then dropped even more sharply to just above $2,000 by November, according to monthly averages released by the International Cocoa Association.