In the next eighteen months, chocolate giant Barry Callebaut wants to increase its production by 20 % and to specialize itself in chocolate decorations. The Swiss powerhouse will therefore expand the production capabilities of its Belgian factories.
Belgian chocolate is ‘hot’
Worldwide Belgian chocolate demand is on the rise, partially thanks to a 23 % decrease in the cocoa price in the past year. The world’s largest chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, is reaping the benefits: it generated a 260 million euro (+ 38.8 %) net profit in its past broken fiscal year.
All the more reason for the Belgian-Swiss giant to invest a lot in its Belgian factories (in Wieze and Halle) over the next eighteen months. Both will get new production lines, but the bulk of the investment will go to its Halle-based factory, which it only acquired a year ago from Mondelez (Côte d’Or and Lu).
Knowledge center in Halle
“The factory in Halle is in prime condition and has the potential for expansion”, EMEA director, Massimo Garavaglia, told De Tijd. “We will add new production lines in the current buildings in order to add 20 % to its capacity by mid-2019.” The factory will become more automated: its 300 employees will keep their job, but no new jobs will be added.
The Halle factory will become the company’s knowledge center on chocolate decoration, a relatively new specialty. The manufacturer hopes to meet the increased demand for edible decorations. “We notice that major manufacturers like Mondelez, Mars and Nestlé aim to distinguish themselves with this”, Garavaglia said, adding that Barry Callebaut is also reaching out to chocolate makers and chefs. “We are already collaborating with 30,000 independent chocolate makers, but we could do a lot more for them.”
Barry Callebaut, founded in 1996 after Belgian Callebaut and French Cacao Barry merged, employs 1,500 people in Belgium. Two thirds of the Belgian production goes to foreign companies and chocolate makers, who then process it and sell it as their own brand. It is not clear how much the Belgian expansion will cost.