The firm posted sales of CHF 2.883 billion ($3.2bn), up 8%, but profit figures will not be released until its full year results are published on 11 March.
Sylvia Kälin, corporate communications at Lindt, told ConfectioneryNews: “The enhancement of the sales is not mainly driven by price increases but by producing more chocolate.”
Lindt grew volumes for its two key global brands, Lindor and Excellence, while it introduced a new brand Hello, in developed markets such as Europe, North America and Australia during the year.
Kälin said that the Hello range included a variety of formats such as tablets and sticks, which had supported its growth.
She added that the firm’s global leadership in the seasonal chocolate segment provided another boost to its 2013 performance. Lindt posted strong seasonal sales in most markets with the exception of economically troubled Southern Europe.
The company’s Lindt Gold Bunny is its chief proposition for Easter, while the Lindt Gold Bear, introduced three years ago has been its mainstay for Christmas. “It’s becoming a very iconic product like the Gold Bunny,” said Kälin.
US premium boom
Lindt’s North America business is the largest contributor to the group’s sales and grew in double digits in 2013. Kälin said Lindt and its subsidiary Ghirardelli had been instrumental in the recent growth of the premium chocolate category in the US, where it is the leading player.
According to Packaged Facts, the US premium chocolate accounted for 19.7% of US sales in 2011, reaching $1.13 bn. Dollar sales were up 8.7% in in food drug and mass channels, excluding Walmart, from the previous year.
In 2013, Lindt also increased sales double digits in England, while it grew above the market average in Germany and France. Its Swiss subsidiary also gained market share in the tablets and pralines segment, while Lindt reported strong performance for recently incorporated subsidiaries in the developing markets Japan, China and South Africa.
Kälin said that preserving quality would be central to continuing Lindt’s sales momentum into 2014, which would demark the company from other confectioners offering premium products alongside economy brands.
“We know that innovation is key in this market,” she added. “Consumers expect new exceptional offerings in taste as well as in format.”
Lindt expects to increase its EBIT margin at the upper end of 20 to 40 basis points.The firm will also grow its production volumes.
In August last year, Lindt announced plans to invest CHF 200m ($217m) in new production lines at existing plants in the US and Europe in response to rising demand in developed markets.
The Lindt group has two factories in the US: One in Stratham, New Hampshire for Lindt brands and the other in San Francisco, California, for its Ghirardelli subsidiary.