(Adds details, background, analyst comment.)
ZURICH, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut said it expected the market recovery to continue after sales volumes rose 8 percent in its first quarter ended Nov.30, helped by easy comparables and renewed global appetite for confectionery.
The global chocolate confectionery sales volume grew 3.1 percent in the three months to October, according to Nielsen data, and Barry Callebaut is also benefiting from big food groups like Nestle and Mondelez outsourcing chocolate production for their ice cream and snacks.
"We have good visibility on our sales portfolio and expect the market recovery to continue," Barry Callebaut Chief Executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company is on track to deliver on its mid-term guidance for average volume growth of 4 percent-6 percent, he added.
Sales volumes at the Zurich-based company, which recently launched a pink chocolate variety marketed as "ruby" chocolate, rose 8 percent to 532,165 tonnes in the three months from September to November, ahead of a Reuters poll forecast for 6.3 percent growth.
Sales revenue declined by 0.7 percent to 1.872 billion Swiss francs ($1.96 billion), falling short of a forecast for 1.925 billion francs, impacted by lower cocoa and other raw material prices.
Sales volumes in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) rose 10.3 percent, helped by additional volumes from an outsourcing deal with Mondelez, while Asia Pacific recorded 17.4 percent volume growth. The Americas region, which had been sluggish recently, saw 2.9 percent volume growth.
"Good start into the year for Barry. All signals continue to be on green for Barry," Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said in a note. ($1 = 0.9547 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by John Revill and Subhranshu Sahu)