Cargill finishes upgrades at cocoa processing plant

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Cargill announced on Nov. 2 that it has completed a $100 million expansion of its cocoa processing facilities in Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire, a project that makes the Yopougon facility the single largest cocoa grinding plant in Africa.

As part of the expansion, Cargill doubled production capacity at the site, enhanced infrastructure and implemented safety improvements. The expansion also resulted in the creation of nearly 100 full-time, local jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs, Cargill said.

A significant portion of the plant’s additional processing capacity was dedicated to dark brown cocoa powders, the company said.

“Consumers, especially in Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African markets, are increasingly drawn to bakery and confectionery products with the strong, chocolatey visual appeal made possible by rich, deep brown cocoa powders,” said Niels Boetje, cocoa managing director for Cargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business. “With the new technology installed at our Yopougon plant, we’re now better equipped to supply the full range of our customers’ needs, from delicate light to intensely dark Gerkens cocoa powders.”

Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, said the investment in Yopougon will serve as a “catalyst” for the establishment of a broader, local agri-food industry. He said the company plans to partner with governments and other key stakeholders in West Africa to drive economic growth in cocoa-origin countries through its cocoa processing operations, sustainability activities and other collaborations.

As part of its commitment, Cargill said it will invest $13 million over the next year to develop expanded and new programming to create stronger, more resilient cocoa farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire. Of the $13 million, $6 million has been earmarked to support farmer coaching and training efforts while $3.5 million will go toward expanding traceability projects in the country.Cargill opened the Yopougon facility in 2000. Source: Food Business News