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Barry Callebaut sells Chococam to focus on cocoa sourcing

By Lindsey Partos , 28-Jul-2008

Focusing further on cocoa bean sourcing and processing, Zurich-based Barry Callebaut spins-off Chococam, the last of its consumer activities in Africa, to South African food firm Tiger Brands.

While the price tag for Cameroon-based Chococam remains undisclosed, the deal sees Tiger Brands acquiring a 74.7 per cent slice of the shares, while the remaining 25.3 per cent will stay with small private shareholders.

The divestment of Chococam, with annual sales of about €28 million, follows the disposal of other consumer businesses in Senegal and Ivory Coast by Barry Callebaut, the world's number one maker of bulk chocolate, to focus on contract manufacturing and producing ingredients such as cocoa butter.

But while shaking off the consumer products end, Barry Callebaut will still remain in Cameroon.

"Our group has been present in Cameroon since 1952.We will remain present in Cameroon through our subsidiary SIC Cacaos in which we have just made important investments," said Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Barry Callebaut.

Indeed, according to a recent Dow Jones commodities report that cites figures from the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, the Cameroon subsidiary of Barry Callebaut bought 20,293 metric tons of cocoa beans for processing in August-June of the 2007-08 season (August-July), down from 21,681 tons a year earlier, figures from show.

For South Africa's Tiger Brands, a food and healthcare company with about €1.6 bn in annual sales, the acquisition expands the firm's "African footprint".

"Chococam is a quality acquisition with high market shares in categories that are familiar to Tiger Brands. We are delighted that we will have a presence in Cameroon as there is enormous growth potential in this market," commented Tiger Brands' CEO Peter Matlare.

Earlier this month Barry Callebaut said that new outsourcing contracts for industrial cocoa from new and existing chocolate makers had boosted volume growth for the firm, helping to offset harmful exchange rates, energy prices and inflation.

The Swiss maker of bulk chocolate reported sales volumes of 872,993mt for the first nine months of 2008, a rise of 10 per cent for the same period in 2007 which they claim is "more than three times the growth rate of the chocolate market."

The firm's strong volume growth propelled nine months sales to May 31, 2008 by 19 per cent to 3.61 billion Swiss francs (€2.24billion), up from CHF3.04 billion in the year ago period. Revenues gained positively from the 'historically' high raw material prices.

ConfectioneryNews.com reported recently that cocoa prices peaked on 13 March this year, with ICE Futures US cocoa 2nd position seeing prices closing at $2,922 a tonne, "a staggering 39.2 per cent higher on the start of the year", says a report from Fortis.

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