Royal Duyvis expands its cocoa and chocolate processing equipment operations
Royal Duyvis Wiener has experienced considerable growth over the past few years. Neill Barston explores its headquarters in the Netherlands to discuss some of its major milestones
Standing proudly on the horizon, the striking windmills of the Zaanse Schans area of Amsterdam are a fine testament to its renowned agricultural heritage.
This intriguing historic district, with its authentically re-created wooden houses and craft stores beside the Zaan river, represent traditional life in the Netherlands as it gradually rose to become one of Europe’s most dynamic trading nations.
Indeed, during the nation’s golden period of the 17th century, there would have been an even greater array of windmills than the examples before us, serving as a vivid symbol of its drive for commerce.
As my host Franck Michelet, sales director for cocoa and chocolate at Royal Duyvis Wiener, explains, the region’s sense of enterprise is still present today within his own business.
This is evident as we tour the company’s bustling facilities at Koog aan de Zaan, which reveal a mix of ongoing manufacturing, logistics and research work serving a global client base. While the summer months often prove a period of downtime for many businesses within the sector, there appears plenty of activity surrounding my visit.
The company’s prime riverside location has gained an enviable reputation for the quality of its industry, underlined by the breadth of leading businesses operating within the district, including Tate and Lyle, Olam, Cargill, and a little up the river, Loders Croklaan.
“There’s a lot of heritage behind our company, as well as synergy. If you look around the waterways here, you have major food and cocoa players, showing that the area has been in the food business for a very long time,” states the sales director.
He explains that the conferring of ‘royal’ status on the company in 2011, in respect of its trading history dating back to 1885, has further helped raise its profile on a global level. As he reveals, the company’s expansion has seen it grow to employ a total of over 300 people across its global activities.
Taking a tour of its extensive production facilities, it’s apparent that the company’s operations at its headquarters are supported by a strong emphasis on research and development.
The firm’s expertise devising complete turnkey lines within the cocoa processing sector, as well as development of chocolate and compound production machinery, demonstrate how it has grown to meet global demands.
In terms of its production activities, these include Thouet Lehmann in Aachen, Germany, as well as the Brazilian company JAF Inox, specialising in manufacturing equipment for gourmet chocolate and cocoa.
On the other side of the globe, the business also has a service point presence in Jakarta, Indonesia.
During the past five years, the business has also expanded in developing its Log5 pasteurisation systems for nuts, which are widely used in confectionery and other food applications. This has added an additional strand to the company’s cocoa and chocolate business.
Having spent the past five years with the company, the sales director says he has witnessed it make significant progress.
“This is a fantastic place to work,” says Michelet, on the business that has come to play a central part in his life through representing the company around the world.
He says there have been numerous challenges along the road, such as delivering equipment developments, logistics issues and handling project delivery times, yet these are all matters that he appears to take very firmly in his stride.
Michelet adds: “Besides keeping its traditions, Royal Duyvis Wiener is a very innovative business with the state-of-the-art technology that we bring to our customers. Our aim is to be part of their strategy and we need to understand the dynamics of the market.
“Many equipment systems are changing, and emerging economies are becoming more important, so you need different styles and solutions to cope with the demand there.
“As a business, we have really been growing quite significantly over the past four years – and we are particularly proud that we have managed to transform the company by recruiting a lot of new young people, who look towards the future, and who are able to see ‘the bigger picture’. This is vital for continuity and innovation within the business.”
One of the most significant pieces of the company’s operations is its sister production facility at Aachen in Germany, where manufacturing of core business equipment takes place.
As the sales director explains, one of the central elements of its success has been a firm belief in ensuring that all elements of equipment, from its cocoa grinding systems through to its major roasting production lines, are produced in-house.
“Today, over 3,400,000 tonnes per year of cocoa is pressed on our presses, and there was a successful roll-out of our latest patented innovation (20 pots press) across the world.
“Our latest winnowing and nib roasting technology (best total cost of ownership: < 30 per cent energy use compared to existing systems) has resulted in 400,000 t/y additional deliveries at various customers in the last three years.
“The company’s grinding technology remains the preferred solution for more than 60 per cent of the world compound and chocolate producers, and we have noted a large growth of our Thouet dry conching technology in new markets.”
Venturing further into the extensive site, we encounter one of the company’s star elements: the state-of-the-art Technology Center.
The facility was officially opened with a significant media spotlight two years ago by the Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, who gave his seal of approval to the 2,000m2 building.
Since the grand opening, its operations have offered customers a host of opportunities for product development testing. Within the facility, almost the entire range of equipment is available for confectionery recipes, including a liquor grinding line.
For cocoa and other oil-bearing seeds, a lab press is available, capable of pressing peanuts, sesame, hazelnuts and other nuts, as well as roll refining equipment and a chocolate ball mill system to fine-tune chocolate and compound recipes.
There is also a strong range of analytical equipment such as a differential scanning calorimeter for accurately categorising products, as well as producing solutions for melting and crystallising projects and processes.
“Customers from all around the world have found their way here, mostly for recipe testing and some for training purposes, but most customers come when they want to validate products.”
Another breakthrough has been achieved with its Log5 pasteurisation system for nuts, seeds, grains and spices. This was first introduced in 2012, with a laboratory version of the equipment available for test purposes at the firm’s headquarters.
According to the company, the Log5 treatment has been developed to minimise the risk of harmful bacteria including Salmonella potentially contaminating food ranges. The ‘Log reduction’ itself is a mathematical formula applied to show the relative number of microbes removed from a surface by cleaning processes employed by Log5.
As the company explained, it works through nuts, which are widely used in chocolate bar ranges, being treated through warm, moist air and controlling temperature, humidity, and airflow to pasteurise the product without affecting it original characteristics. This is a crucial factor for product developers and something the company regards as a particular strength of the equipment.
“We are doing three or four trials a week here with customers. It’s a game changer in the industry, because it’s not only about food safety, but also about transportation of products across distance.
“It’s part of our core strategy to keep boosting our product range for different applications, using nuts and seeds, to be able to offer all solutions our customers need.
“People are not compromising on safety – the market demand is such that consumers want to know the origins of their food and how it’s made – food safety is really important for us and the cross fertilisation of all our technology.”
Wider industry challenges
Having been born in West Africa into a French family, Franck Michelet is perhaps uniquely placed to understand both the requirements of the business in its European base, as well the needs of the complete value chain. He believes it is important to support the complete value chain of the industry in key global production locations.
As he acknowledges, more needs to be done in terms of supporting the farming communities at the centre of the cocoa sector – which he stresses Royal Duyvis Wiener is actively working towards.
He explains that he has made numerous visits to examine production operations in Africa, recognising that without sustainability within the whole chain of production, the future of the cocoa sector faces serious challenges.
“Going forward, what are we missing in the industry? We have everything in terms of communications and technology. We can move very fast from A to B, but we need to protect our planet now. It’s something that everyone wants to do, but how do you achieve it? “It’s a big thing and it’s something that’s starting for us with farming initiatives. How can they get more value from what they sell, and also into the complete value chain – how can we decrease the cost per tonne of processing in terms of the cost of energy?” adds the sales director, who explains the business remains in a positive position.
With an extensive portfolio of equipment that spans the complete range of cocoa processing, nut processing, chocolate and compound production, the demand for its equipment continues to grow.
In terms of the company’s outlook, he says the business has further plans for growth in a number of territories far beyond the boundaries of its European base.
Michelet adds: “We are doing a lot of work in Asia, with our main focus exploring potential in India which has a growing market, and we are on a journey travelling for many years to install ourselves in specific locations.
“This includes West Africa, as well as already having a foothold within Brazil, but it’s one step at time.
“I think if you look at the pressing and roasting side of our business, we’re leading the industry, and the area of growth for us is West Africa and emerging markets, which is where we are placing a good deal of our effort. There’s huge growth for cocoa and we’re well positioned in that market,” adds the director on a business that is continuing on a remarkable upward trend as it moves forward with its global development plans.
– The Royal Duyvis Wiener group has a long history dating back over 130 years to early origins of the Dutch cocoa industry. It was founded in 1885, with the business supplying both new equipment and upgrades to existing ranges to its customers around the world.
– In 2012, Log5 pasteurisation systems became part of the business
– From 2010, F.B Lehmann, founded in 1834, manufacturing complete machine plants, also joined the group.
– Thouet, founded in Aachen, producing a broad range of equipment including conches, melters, mixers and kneaders, further strengthened the Royal Duyvis Wiener group in 2013.
– South American business JAF Inox, specialising in gourmet chocolate production became its latest addition in 2014.