Hopes for Cargill’s House of Chocolate forging a key home for confectionery innovation
Attending the launch of Cargill’s House of Chocolate in Mouscron, Belgium, this week felt like an especially breakthrough moment for the business, and indeed the wider confectionery sector as a whole.
Its strong combination of pilot plant and R&D facilities rolled into one have been billed by the company as unique in the world, and in truth I’ve yet to see anything within our specific market quite like this latest major addition to its confectionery operations.
While a number of key companies in the sector may well operate innovation labs, its the immediacy of having all facilities under one roof that offers game changing possibilities for the industry as regards new product development, and pushing the chocolate category into some especially intriguing new ground.
Today, the options appear comparatively vast compared to even a decade ago, in terms of the sheer diversity of potential new lines that could be created through such R&D sites – including white, dark and milk chocolate options catering for vegan, organic and reduced sugar markets across the world.
Significantly, the business confirmed that the site will also be able to work with its sweetener divisions on its latest generation of stevia-based products that launched recently in the US that could offer major product potential within the ‘better for you’ market space, which has gained huge traction amid the pandemic.
Notably, Cargill has confirmed that its latest facilities, which have seen an investment of around €21 million, will seek out opportunities working with customers of all sizes to drive forward innovation within the sector. This is a key point in itself, as we’ve recently shown that it is often the smaller start-ups and emerging enterprises that are showing some of the most prominent technical leaps forward. So it is hoped that such businesses will indeed find a home at the new facilities in Belgium.
Speaking to the development team behind the project last year and also this week, it is clear that plenty of passion has gone into the development of this eye-catching new facility, which it is hoped will make a real difference to the wider industry. Certainly, such positive news is exceptionally welcome given the wealth of broader tests facing the industry in terms of market instability and uncertainty arising from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and lingering impacts from the pandemic as regards logistics operations. This in turn has had a knock-on effect upon core ingredient prices for cocoa, which have continued to fluctuate in recent times.
So here’s hoping that initiatives such as Cargill’s latest site, the House of Chocolate, does fulfil the ambitions of its creators in becoming a genuine home for innovation for the region, and consequently prove influential across the world.
Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production magazine
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