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Swiss chocolate sales melt in 2009

ZURICH, Feb 10 – Consumption of Swiss chocolates melted with the economic crisis in 2009 but new markets like China and the Gulf states grew sharply, data released by the chocolate makers association showed on Wednesday.

Chocosuisse, which groups 18 Swiss chocolate makers, said in a statement that sales results at home and abroad last year left a "bittersweet taste."

Overall sales fell for the first time in six years, declining by nearly six percent to 174,109 tonnes — some 1.7 billion Swiss francs (1.2 billion euros, 1.6 billion dollars) worth of chocolate, the association said.

Exports, which account for about 60 percent of sales, fell by 9.9 percent in value terms to 832 million Swiss francs, especially in top market Germany.

But sales shot up by 34 percent in chocolate-making rival Belgium and showed "impressive sales growth" in Australia, China and several Gulf states, Chocosuisse said.

Even the Swiss tempered their sweet tooth in the crisis, eating 700 grammes less per inhabitant over the year — but still some 11.7 kilogrammes each.

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