CHICAGO — Barry Callebaut has opened a research and development laboratory and pilot plant at its cocoa products factory in Eddystone, Pa. The pilot plant, a scaled-down cocoa products factory, mimics the production processes that occur on full-scale production lines. The company thus will be able to produce cocoa liquor, cocoa powder and cocoa butter from any cocoa bean blend in small batches, as well as test new products and raw ingredients, prior to producing them on a mass scale.

Previously, Barry Callebaut’s pilot-scale R.&D. work in cocoa was done only in a cocoa processing facility in Louviers, France.

“With the opening of this pilot facility, we can now perform R.&D. services closer to our North American customers and offer better and faster services,” said Mark Adrianssens, R.&D. director for the Americas region for Barry Callebaut, which is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and has a U.S. office in Chicago.

The new pilot plant will feature such pilot scale equipment as a winnower to de-hull and winnow cocoa beans, a nib and cake alkalizer to neutralize acidic components in cocoa, a nib roaster to roast the bits of the cocoa beans that have been separated from their hulls, a cocoa liquor grinding line to grind the roasted cocoa nibs into a fine paste, a cocoa press to separate the cocoa paste into liquid cocoa butter and solid cocoa cakes, and a cocoa powder mill to process the solid cocoa into a powder.