MOUSCRON, BELGIUM — Cargill, Inc. has unveiled plans to invest $21 million to build a “House of Chocolate” complex at its Mouscron, Belgium, chocolate production plant.
The new 700-square-meter complex will be staffed by more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service specialists and R&D scientists. Featuring a chocolate experience center, pilot plant, sensory lab and workspace, the House of Chocolate will serve as the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities, the company said.
“It’s fitting we make this investment in Belgium, given the unique place it holds in the chocolate world,” said Inge Demeyere, managing director for Cargill Chocolate Europe. “Our House of Chocolate builds on that rich tradition, offering customers a unique venue to discover all that’s possible with our state-of-the-art capabilities and our broad range of brands including Cargill, Veliche Gourmet and Smet.”
The complex will allow customers to experience an all-in-one development process in a single location, Cargill said, from inspiration, innovation and training, pilot lab testing and sensory testing to commercial-scale production. At Cargill’s chocolate experience center, customers may gain inspiration from gourmet chocolate chefs, brainstorm new product concepts and experience in-depth training sessions. The on-site pilot plant allows product developers to test concepts through small-scale production runs that replicate the manufacturing conditions of industrial lines. The in-house sensory lab ensures the products deliver on consumers’ expectations for taste, visual appearance, texture and more.
“Innovation stands at the forefront of our House of Chocolate, as we bring together all our expertise and resources,” said Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “It will allow us to collaborate with customers at every step of their product development journey, transforming ideas into reality using a streamlined approach to facilitate innovation and deliver greater efficiency and speed to market.”
The House of Chocolate will also incorporate technology to reduce Cargill’s ecological footprint, including the use of geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption.
Construction on the new facility has begun, with the pilot center scheduled to open in fall of 2021 and the chocolate experience center and sensory lab slated to be operational in January 2022.