Swiss chocolate sales plummet during coronavirus lockdown

Chocolate was somehow not a winner during the coronavirus lockdown.

Swiss chocolate sales plummet during coronavirus lockdown
Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

Chocolate may be a go-to comfort food for many but Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut said Thursday that sales tumbled during its latest quarter when many consumers were confined to their homes as part of measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Sales at the world's top manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products slumped 14.3 percent by volume in its third quarter that ran from from March through May.

“As anticipated in April, COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe impacted our sales volume in the third quarter,” said the firm which supplies major confectionery makers such as Nestle, Unilever and Mondelez.

In the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, sales tumbled by 17.1 percent during that period when most European countries were under lockdown.

Lockdowns have seen some consumers spending more on groceries as they ate more at home, but not all food products have benefitted, and gains at supermarkets have not always compensated for sales lost through other channels.

“The out-of-home and impulse consumption was particularly impacted, as restaurants, hotels and most shops were closed,” said Barry Callebaut, with volumes dropping by nearly half in the division that deals with chocolatiers.

It noted that sales volumes have picked up in areas where lockdowns have been relaxed, with the Asia Pacific regions flat in the third quarter where there was speedy recovery of demand in China and Japan.

“We are confident we should rapidly regain momentum as markets are gradually reopening,” chief executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique said in the earnings statement.

The firm did not provide sales revenue figures for the third quarter alone, but for the first nine months of its fiscal year they were flat in local currencies and down by 4.4 percent when converted into Swiss francs.

And Barry Callebaut was optimistic about the future, raising its forecast for sales volume growth in coming years, saying the experience of working closely with clients to ensure operations were able to continue during the coronavirus crisis has given them insights in how to better serve its customers going forward.

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?