Minneapolis / MN. (cg) Cargill Company is unfolding its plans to build a «Chocolate House» complex at its Belgian site in Mouscron with the aim of facilitating the development of new products and improving collaboration with customers. The complex will be adjacent to Cargill’s existing chocolate factory and will consist of an innovative chocolate experience center, a unique pilot factory, a sensory lab and a creative workspace for Cargill’s European R+D team of chocolate engineers.
The new 700 m2 complex will allow our customers to experience the comfort of an all-in-one development process. Inspiration, innovation and training will be key ingredients, along with pilot lab testing, sensory testing and finally commercial scale production – all in a single location.
«Innovation comes first at our Chocolate House, as that’s where we bring all our expertise and resources together,» says Harold Poelma, Director of Cargill Cocoa + Chocolate. «It will allow us to work with customers every step of their product development process. Ideas will be turned into reality: our structured way of working makes it easier to implement innovations and bring new products to market more efficiently and faster».
The Chocolate House is undoubtedly the only one of its kind and combines three essential functions under one roof. In the Chocolate Experience Center, customers can get fresh inspiration from Cargill’s gourmet chocolate chefs, brainstorm on new product concepts and take their chocolate knowledge to the next level in in-depth training sessions. The pilot plant on the same site allows product developers to test their concepts in small-scale production runs that are a true simulation of working conditions on industrial lines. The sensory lab in the same building guarantees that the new products meet consumer expectations in terms of taste, appearance and texture, among other things.
The new building will house a team of more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service providers and R+D scientists. The complex will be the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities.
«There’s a very good reason why we’re just making this investment in Belgium,» says Inge Demeyere, Managing Director of Cargill Chocolate Europe. «Our country has a unique place in the world of chocolate. Our Chocolate House builds on that rich tradition and offers our customers a unique place to discover what’s possible with our high-tech facilities and our wide range of brands, including Cargill, Veliche Gourmet and Smet».
Construction has already started. The pilot center is scheduled to open its doors in the fall of 2021. The chocolate experience center and sensory lab will be operational from January 2022. The new complex will be good for the creation of about ten local jobs.
In line with Cargill’s commitment to sustainability, the new complex is equipped with innovative technologies that reduce its ecological footprint. For example, the choice of geothermal energy will drastically reduce energy consumption.
This investment follows a series of previous innovations in the adjacent Mouscron chocolate factory. In 2019, for example, we commissioned a new production line for low-sugar chocolate and opened a production line for liquid chocolate in 2018.