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81% of sales of Lebanese chocolate are exported to Arab countries


L’Orient Le Jour published yesterday a special article on the state of chocolate industry in Lebanon highlighting its strong performance despite challenges facing the industrial sector in general. According to the latest figures published by the Lebanese Customs, exports of made-in-Lebanon chocolate were geared to the following Arab countries: Saudi Arabia (1496 tons), Jordan (502), Qatar (484), Iraq (320), UAE (300) and Kuwait (202 tons), representing nearly 81% of total sales in 2015. 
L’Orient Le Jour spoke to a number of owners of chocolate and candy factories to get further insight on the subject. The head of the marketing department at Souchet chocolate factory, Mohammed Dandan, said Saudi Arabia is the largest market of this domestic product. Likewise, Liliane Hayek, Pralino quality officer, confirmed that about 90% of sales are headed to the countries of the region, however the PR director at Ethel factory, Joelle Saadeh, pointed out that consumption of chocolate in Lebanon is gradually declining. 
The newspaper linked the success of the chocolate industry to its capacity to adapt to the tastes of different consumers. However, it also outlined the existing challenges facing the sector, notably the closing of the Syrian-Jordanian borders and the high production cost, particularly of electric power as a result of frequent cuts. It went on to say that electricity charges represent 15% of total production cost for some factories in Beirut, but only 3% for the Ethel sweet factory in Zahle that benefits from 24/24 power service. For her part Hayek expressed serious concerns towards the growing competition from recently relocated Syrian factories that are now operating in Lebanon and are able to sell at more competitive prices. (L’Orient Le Jour, February 15, 2016)


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