SINGAPORE — Cargill has entered into an agreement to acquire Aalst Chocolate Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based chocolate manufacturer whose product offerings include both bake-stable and artisan chocolates and compounds, in addition to a range of premium retail chocolate products and luxury pralines. The acquisition is expected to significantly expand Cargill’s Asia-Pacific footprint, adding chocolate to its existing portfolio of cocoa products, already sold throughout the region.

“The rapidly growing Asian marketplace is increasingly wielding its influence around the globe, sparking inspiration and driving international trends,” said Francesca Kleemans, managing director for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Asia-Pacific. “Joining with Aalst strengthens our position in this critical region, enabling us to become the supplier-of-choice for industrial and foodservice customers. With an expanded selection of value-added and specialty chocolate products and deep technical expertise, together we can accelerate innovation, better helping customers create products that continue to surprise and delight.”

Aalst provides product to more than 50 countries, exporting to industrial, retail and foodservice clients in key markets such as India, China, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Korea and Japan. The company operates a manufacturing plant in Singapore and has R&D capabilities in Singapore and Shanghai. Once the transaction is finalized, Aalst’s more than 200 employees across the region will join Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate Asia-Pacific operations.

“Singapore and made-in-Singapore products are both highly regarded and reputed for meeting stringent world-class standards,” said Richard Lee, founder and chief executive officer of Aalst. “We are proud of Aalst Chocolate’s heritage as a Singapore company with a renowned presence of over 18 years in Asia’s chocolate industry. Together with Cargill’s global expertise and experience, we believe that this new venture will be well-positioned to harness the full potential of exciting synergetic growth possibilities and become an ideal integrated chocolate solution provider for our customers.”

Cargill also announced it is gearing up to start its first Asian chocolate manufacturing operations in India in September. Cargill partnered with a local manufacturer in India last year to open the plant, which the company expects to initially produce around 10,000 tons of chocolate compounds for the domestic market.

Cargill established its cocoa presence in Asia in 1995 in Makassar, Indonesia, with a team designated to support trading and supply management of cocoa to Cargill processing plants in Europe and Brazil. In 2014, the company opened a cocoa processing plant in Gresik, Indonesia, to make premium Gerkens cocoa products.