Barry Callebaut invests €100 million in world’s largest sustainable chocolate distribution facility in Lokeren, Belgium

A major operations investment totalling €100million has been made by Barry Callebaut as it inaugurates is new ‘Chocolate Box’ global distribution centre in Lokeren, Belgium, which is though to be the largest of its kind in the world, writes Neill Barston.

According to the company, its latest facilities will serve as the logistics hub for all packed Belgian chocolate and decorations products, produced within its core brand factories within the region, at Wieze and Halle.

As the business added, the Chocolate Box has stemmed from a successful partnership with real estate developer WDP and the city of Lokeren, and represents the company’s largest ever infrastructure project. It is set to increase the efficiency of Barry Callebaut’s global logistics and will allow the group to serve customers even faster.

The new warehouse is located near the E17 highway, facilitating carrier transport throughout Western Europe and with direct access to the Port of Antwerp for global shipping. Construction began in the summer of 2019.

Less than 24 months later, the building, spanning a total surface of 12 football fields, was completed. In the fully automated high bay warehouse, 41 meters high, up to 125 000 pallets can be stored at a constant temperature of 18°C. Over 120 employees, of whom 40 are in newly created positions, are securing smooth operations.

Significantly, the  Barry Callebaut Chocolate Box is not only believed to be the world’s largest chocolate warehouse, but also the most sustainable. It is reportedly the first building in the Benelux with a “BREEAM Outstanding” certification, the highest standard in sustainable logistics.

The building is fully energy-positive, as it can completely fulfil its own energy consumption. In order to achieve this certificate, the newest techniques in sustainable building have been used: solar panels, air treatment groups, rain water and heat recovery, humidity control, insulation and geothermal energy. The wellbeing of the employees, an essential part of the “BREEAM Outstanding” certification, is ensured through access to natural daylight throughout the building, zones for relaxation and storage facilities for e-bikes.

Peter Boone, CEO of the Barry Callebaut Group (above, centre), said: “The Chocolate Box is a milestone for Barry Callebaut. From Lokeren, all packed chocolate products – mainly under our Belgian chocolate brand Callebaut – will be shipped to the rest of the world. The Chocolate Box is an example of how we execute our smart growth strategy, increasing efficiency and serving our customers in a more sustainable way.”

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