Puratos progresses major expansion of its Belgian confectionery ingredients site

The global Puratos confectionery and bakery ingredients group is set to deliver a major expansion of its Belcolade production facility in Erembodegem, Belgium, writes Neill Barston.

As the business explained to Confectionery Production, the move is expected to significantly increase its capacity, as well as boosting flexibility to better serve customers worldwide, with an enhanced innovation focus.

Notably, it will also be an “exemplar of sustainable chocolate production,” according to Jean-Philippe Michaux, the company’s CFO and head of the sustainability steering committee.

Upon completion of the first phase in 2023, Belcolade will be reconfirmed as the chocolate of choice for chocolatiers, pâtissiers and bakers. “With consumer demand for sustainable Belgian chocolate rapidly accelerating, and as the only Belgian family-owned producer of that for professionals here, it was an obvious move for us to expand in Erembodegem,” states Youri Dumont, director of the chocolate business unit at Puratos.

“We will nearly double our Belcolade output over the next five years, with customers benefitting from inspiring innovation brought to market faster than ever before.”

The development of Belcolade is attributable to the company’s CacaoTrace programme and the high-quality cocoa ingredients it provides. More than any other comparable sourcing programme, Cacao-Trace benefits the cocoa farmers, who receive a better price for their quality beans and an extra Chocolate Bonus for every kilo of Cacao-Trace chocolate sold.

In line with its commitment to future generations, the entire Belcolade site will become carbon neutral. It will run 100% on renewable electricity and therefore be completely free from fossil fuels. The facility will also source 90% of its water from collected rainwater. These measures are fundamental to the company’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, according to Michaux.

This investment will be financed with a new sustainable loan granted by KBC, with Puratos offering a full range of innovative products and application expertise for artisans, industry, retailers and food service customers in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. Its headquarters are located on the outskirts of Brussels (Belgium), where the company was founded in 1919.

The business presently has 9,500 employees, with products and services are available in over 100 countries around the world. In many cases, they are produced locally by our subsidiaries. Above all, we aim to be ‘reliable partners in innovation’ across the globe to help our customers deliver nutritious and tasty food to their local communities.

Welcoming the expansion project, Dumont adds: “Back in the ‘80s, we decided to protect one of the most precious elements of Belgium’s culinary heritage, Belgian chocolate. As a result, in 1988, we invested in a factory and launched the Belcolade brand, offering the finest quality chocolate produced exclusively in Belgium – in Erembodegem.

“We are very excited about this expansion and the benefits it will bring to our valued customers, partners, employees and the local area, recruiting around 100 colleagues in the coming years. With our larger team of experienced, passionate and trusted experts, state-of-the-art equipment and a heritage firmly rooted in the heart of Belgium, we’re looking forward to bringing even more unique, delicious and sustainable Cacao-Trace chocolate to the market.”

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