“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, in the release. “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”.
Construction has begun on the complex, which incorporates technology to reduce its ecological footprint, including the use of geothermal energy to significantly reduce energy consumption. The pilot center is scheduled to open in Fall 2021. The chocolate experience center and sensory lab will be operational in January 2022. The new complex will create around 10 new jobs in the community, and will be staffed by a team of more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service specialists and R&D scientists, serving as the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities, according to the release.
The House of Chocolate will serve three critical functions, the company said:
- At the chocolate experience center, customers can gain inspiration from Cargill’s gourmet chocolate chefs, brainstorm new product concepts and elevate their chocolate knowledge through in-depth training sessions.
- At the on-site pilot plant, product developers can test their concepts through small-scale production runs that replicate the manufacturing conditions of industrial lines
- At the in-house sensory lab, customers can ensure those products deliver on consumers’ expectations for taste, visual appearance, texture, and more.
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“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, in the release. “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."