Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO Barry Callebaut

'Finanz und Wirtschaft' interview with CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique

"We’ve got our finger on the pulse of the market." - Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut, talks with 'Finanz und Wirtschaft' - a leading Swiss-german business newspaper - about the company’s growth opportunities and its ability to reinvent itself over and over again (a short summary in English please see below).

He explains that due to his experience at Unilever he is able to understand the needs of manufacturers in terms of consumer trends and innovations and to adapt Barry Callebaut’s offer accordingly. Currently, there is a polarization trend going on in the chocolate market – on the one hand consumers want good value for little money and on the other hand, there is a trend towards best quality and innovation. In addition to these basic tendencies and regional differences, customers pay more attention to the origin of cocoa beans and whether they are produced in a sustainable manner.

De Saint-Affrique is sure that Barry Callebaut is able to satisfy both poles of the market – due to its production know-how and its size, which result in economies of scale, Barry Callebaut is able to keep up competition in the market for lower-priced products, while at the same time its master chocolatiers guarantee innovation and make sure that the company can meet the highest customer requirements.

In the first half of the year, the company’s registered growth in volume while profitability lagged behind. This was due to the fact that the combined price ratio between cocoa, cocoa butter and cocoa powder was at the lowest level in twenty years in autumn 2015. The current restructuring process might go on for a couple of years.

On the one hand, earning power is being readjusted by means of a cutback of capacity in Thailand and Malaysia. On the other hand, the dependency from combined ratio shall be reduced. This is being achieved by an improved customer segmentation in the market and by strengthening the premium business.

The company’s global position allows for a global management of flows of goods and to benefit from the different production costs in the different regions. De Saint-Affrique explains that no further restructuring measures are planned and that there is no excess capacity. He adds that the acquisition of Petra Foods in 2013 turned Barry Callebaut into a real global player. In order to take action against child labor Barry Callebaut launched initiatives that aim at improving the salaries of the cocoa farmers.

The company has its own sustainability programs in Africa in order to support these efforts and collaborates with other organizations that also offer training. Barry Callebaut’s market share in the gourmet business currently amounts to 20%. Due to its Chocolate Academy centers and its master chocolatiers the company has its finger on the pulse of the market and tries to increase its market share.

The company is open to further acquisitions but focuses on organic growth.

Bjoern Emde

Bjoern Emde

In charge of External Communications / Media Relations. German American dual national with a keen interest in politics, business gossip and culture (meaning Football)‎. Talk show and speechwriting enthusiast. Father of two Kindergarden-age children and therefore resistent to most levels of noise and stress.

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