Barry Callebaut prepares to cut up to 2,500 jobs over 18 months

Barry Callebaut has revealed plans to shed around 2,500 jobs from its global workforce over the next 18 months, as it undergoes a period of major structural re-organisation, writes Neill Barston.

The Swiss-headquartered business, which remains the largest B2B chocolate producer in the world, supplying many leading confectionery brands, spoke to German newspaper Handelsblatt.

CEO Peter Feld confirmed to the publication the move to reduce its headcount by around 18% was being made to make the business more efficient, and is reportedly set to include the closure of a production facility near Hamburg.

The move comes as the cocoa and confectionery sector face significant supply shortfalls that have impacted on the global industry, which has seen commodity prices double for cocoa in the past year, as well as sugar increasing rapidly in value, placing further strain on the sector.

“It is about reducing complexity and eliminating duplication of work and inefficient structures,” explained the company’s CEO (pictured below) on the jobs cutting decision to Handelsblatt, noting that the business wanted to re-focus its efforts on delivering growth.

Having taken on the top post at the business last April from former CEO Peter Boone, Feld has overseen significant plans being put forward to enhance its international operations. He also reportedly asserted that previously, there had not been enough provision made for its future positioning within the market, which is continuing to face significant challenges.

However, the business relatively recently launched what many observers considered to be one of its most significant products to date, its ‘next generation’ premium chocolate, in October 2022. This major introduction, inspired by artisan production methods, promised gamechanging enhancements in terms of sustainable production values, that gained significant worldwide media attention.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported, this has centred on plans to invest CHF 500 million in delivering a programme of digital transformation for the business, focused on customer service and sustainability initiatives, which was announced last September, under the banner of BC Next Level. Among the key rationalising measure already implemented by the company has been in reducing its executive committee from nine members down to six.

While the precise breakdown of job cuts across its international business has yet to be determined, it is anticipated that there will be a broad spread of impact across its divisions, which presently cover, Western Europe, Central Europe, North America, Latin America and Region AMEA (Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa).

Confectionery Production has approached Barry Callebaut for further comment in relation to the story. The company said: “Last September, we launched our BC Next Level strategic investment program. Our goal is to make Barry Callebaut fit for the future and take it to the next level of growth.

“The programme includes investments of CHF 500 million in the areas most relevant to our customers. It also includes measures to increase efficiency within the company. Overall, the program aims to reduce costs by15 percent, which could affect up to 2,500 positions worldwide over the next 18 months, primarily by eliminating duplication and inefficiencies. Discussions with employee representatives have just begun.”

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