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US chocolate product imports rise despite coronavirus disruptions

The spread of lockdowns and social distancing measures linked to the coronavirus outbreak have disrupted supply chains and are cutting consumer demand, as discussed in Panjiva's Q2 2020 Outlook. Sadly, social distancing will likely lead to fewer Easter egg hunts this year.

Yet, that does not mean that retailers are expecting a collapse in demand. Indeed, Panjiva's data shows that U.S. imports of chocolate products 1.3% rose in January and February combined, while preliminary data for March shows seaborne imports slipped 4.6% lower. Imports from Canada and Mexico have done better than those from Europe, possibly reflecting a switch to domestic brands over more luxurious imports from overseas.

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Many chocolatiers have seen significant shipment growth, though. Seaborne imports linked to Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG, maker of the eponymous chocolate rabbit, saw growth of 33.3% in shipments in the first quarter, including a 22.0% surge in March.

The first-quarter growth lagged the 38.5% expansion seen in imports linked to Mondelez International Inc., while shipments associated with Barry Callebaut AG climbed by 20.0%. Ferrero International S.A. meanwhile saw a drop of 21.1%, including a 40% drop in March — potentially linked to fewer ambassadorial events.

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Christopher Rogers is a senior researcher at Panjiva, which is a business line of S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global Inc. This content does not constitute investment advice, and the views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Links are current at the time of publication. S&P Global Market Intelligence is not responsible if those links are unavailable later.