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Olam unveils new cocoa innovation centre in US

Olam Cocoa has opened its latest Cocoa Innovation Centre (CIC) in Illinois, US, to support growing demand from North American customers, and launched a new cocoa powder brand.

The new facility in Willowbrook, it says, will provide important innovation capabilities to support Olam Cocoa’s North American customers. It will assist customers in the refinement and reformulation of existing recipes, provide proof of concept opportunities, as well as aid in the development of new products across various application categories such as chocolate confectionery, biscuits and bakery, cereals, dairy, ice cream and beverages.

“The facility will also host regular educational and application-specific seminars as part of a range of services designed to greatly reduce product development cycle timelines and help customers keep pace with changing consumer tastes and market trends,” said Rinus Heemskerk, global head of product development and innovation.

The company has also unveiled a new look for its cocoa product brands, deZaan, Unicao, Macao and Joanes, as well as launched a new cocoa product brand for the North American and Asia Pacific markets, Huysman. As a region-specific brand born out of the heritage of deZaan, starting in the third quarter of 2017, Huysman will offer a “focused selection of value driven, best-in-class cocoa powders” to these markets.

Matthias Richter, vice president of cocoa for North America, noted, “The North American market continues to see growing demand for products containing cocoa as exemplified by the recent projection that the US chocolate market’s retail value sales will grow by 9.9% from 2016 to 2021.

“As experienced by our customers at today’s opening, this Cocoa Innovation Centre is a valuable resource that will help them to maximise opportunities related to these demand increases.”

Meanwhile, Olam Cocoa CEO Gerard Manley added, “By investing in modern facilities like Willowbrook we support our customers to satisfy consumer needs, and by being transparent on issues such as sustainability and product provenance, we are also ensuring that we help to stimulate demand which will support cocoa farmers and provide long term viability to the industry.”

Olam Cocoa now has six innovation facilities globally along with centres in Brazil, Netherlands, Spain, Singapore and UK.

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