Global chocolate producer Barry Callebaut saw sales increase by 22% to CHF4.3m (£2.8m) in the first nine months of its financial year.

The company said it also saw strong sales volume growth of 15.8% in the period to 31 May, which was driven by the acquisition of Petra Foods.

It added that strategic investments were paying off – and that it was also seeing impressive (+63%) growth in emerging markets.

Sales volume in Europe decreased by 0.2% to 553,291 tonnes. Overall sales revenue in the region grew by 10% to CHF1.9m as a result of higher raw material prices and a “more favourable product mix”.

Chief executive Juergen Steinemann, said: “I am satisfied with our third-quarter volume growth, which was driven by the acquired cocoa business, emerging markets and our gourmet business. As we continued to focus on increasing our product margins, we concentrated on selective growth in developed markets. While the cocoa powder market remains challenging, we are very satisfied with the integration of the acquired cocoa business.”

He added: “Our priorities remain to complete the integration of the acquired cocoa business and to strengthen our product margins. At the same time, in alignment with our growth strategy, we are preparing the group for the next growth phase by expanding existing factories and further investing in our overall organisation. We are on track to reach our mid-term targets.”

A new chocolate factory in Santiago, Chile has been opened this month, which will have a manufacturing capacity in excess of 20,000 tonnes. And the company has also recently received a positive Scientific Opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to extend its existing health claim for cocoa extract products, which have a higher concentration of health-enhancing flavanols. The company is now awaiting the approval of the EU Commission. If granted, Barry Callebaut’s health claim could be applied to new products in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, medical nutrition and health-supplement industry sectors.