Cargill’s European managing director for chocolate, Inge Demeyere, has hailed ‘a major milestone’ for the company in formally unveiling its new innovation and research facility in Mouscron, Belgium, writes Neill Barston.
As previously reported, the facilities, which have been developed alongside the company’s existing plant, have included investment totalling around €21 million into delivering a location capable of enabling the next generation of products, including sugar-reduced ranges.
Designed as a 6,200 square meter complex, its three-floor experience centre includes a combination of what is believed to be a unique pilot plant with sensory expertise, and creative workspace for the company’s European R&D team of chocolate engineers.
Speaking to Confectionery Production at the launch event in Mouscron yesterday (May 31), the development team behind the project believed it would herald a significant new chapter in the company’s engagement with the confectionery segment.
The business is set to shortly mark its 20th anniversary of operating within the chocolate market, and as has previously been covered, it has devised solutions for 30% reduced sugar bar ranges, with the new site offering capabilities of notably further refining specific recipes. This includes deploying the company’s recently launched next generation stevia solutions.
Inge Demeyere (pictured right of image) told Confectionery Production that it is the company’s goal that the House of Chocolate will be inclusive to all levels of innovation within the sector, whether through artisan chefs and chocolatiers, or developed in partnership with major confectionery groups in being at the forefront of advanced product development.
She said: “I’m very excited about the launch of the House of Chocolate. I felt the passion for chocolate in the room, which for me was very energising, which is a big milestone for our chocolate business.
“We wanted to create a place where customers can explore the entire world of chocolate under one roof, enabling them to taste, feel, smell and see chocolate in every form. At the House of Chocolate, customers can collaborate with our experts and leverage our resources to create products inspired by the latest trends. It is a place designed to bring ideas to life and quickly move them to the market.”
As the company added, the concept of the site begins in its chocolate experience centre, with the facilities offering visitors a chance to explore market trends around health, sustainability, and sensory experiences, and brainstorm new product possibilities.
Furthermore, the business explained that collaboration is central to the House of Chocolate experience, as it serves as the European R&D hub for Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities and its 40 chocolate engineers. It’s also home to a unique pilot plant, giving brands the opportunity to rapidly prototype new products in small batches for greater efficiency and speed to market.
Belgium has been a focal point of Cargill’s global chocolate business for many years due to its unique position in the chocolate world globally and the strong reputation of Belgian chocolate. Cargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business has operated in the country since 2002, and has extensively invested to meet customer demands for vegan, extra white, and sugar-reduced product options. It has also strengthened its presence in the gourmet space by acquiring businesses such as Leman Decorations and Smet.
As the business added, the development of the site is the latest in a series of steps to deliver a world-class customer experience as part of 10 application centres around the world, aiming to offer market-leading co-creation and innovation potential.