In a move to facilitate better product development and enhance the customer collaboration experience in 'a dynamic chocolate market', Cargill said the new facility will be built alongside the company’s existing chocolate production plant.
Plans will include a state-of-the-art chocolate experience centre, a unique pilot plant, a sensory lab and creative workspace for the company’s European R&D team of chocolate engineers.
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate said the new 700-square-meter complex will enable customers to experience the convenience of an all-in-one development process, from inspiration, innovation and training, through pilot lab testing, sensory testing and finally culminating in commercial-scale production – at a single location.
“Innovation stands at the forefront of our House of Chocolate, as we bring together all our expertise and resources,” said Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.
“It will allow us to collaborate with customers at every step of their product development journey, transforming ideas into reality using a streamlined approach to facilitate innovation and deliver greater efficiency and speed to market.”
The new House of Chocolate will bring three critical functions of the company under one roof and will enhance its gourmet with an on-site pilot plant that allows product developers to test their concepts through small-scale production runs that replicate the manufacturing conditions of industrial lines, while the in-house sensory lab ensures those products deliver on consumers’ expectations for taste, visual appearance, texture and more.
Staffed by a team of more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service specialists and R&D scientists, the new facility will serve as the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities.
“It’s fitting we make this investment in Belgium, given the unique place it holds in the chocolate world,” said Inge Demeyere, managing director for Cargill Chocolate Europe. “Our House of Chocolate builds on that rich tradition, offering customers a unique venue to discover all that’s possible with our state-of-the-art capabilities and our broad range of brands including Cargill, Veliche Gourmet and Smet.”
Construction has already begun, with the pilot centre scheduled to open in autumn 2021. The chocolate experience centre and sensory lab will be operational in January 2022.
Cargill said the new complex will create around 10 new jobs in the community.