Cargill has unveiled plans to develop the “House of Chocolate” complex at its site in Mouscron, Belgium, to facilitate product development and enhance collaboration with customers.
The 700-sq.-meter complex, which will be built alongside the company’s existing chocolate production plant, will include a state-of-the-art chocolate experience center, a pilot plant, a sensory lab and creative workspace for the company’s European R&D team of chocolate engineers.
Cargill says the House of Chocolate will give customers the convenience of an all-in-one development process, from inspiration, innovation and training, through pilot lab testing, sensory testing and finally, culminating in commercial-scale production at a single location.
“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 brings three critical functions under one roof. At the company’s 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. The on-site pilot plant allows product developers to test their concepts through small-scale production runs that replicate the manufacturing conditions of industrial lines, while the in-house sensory lab ensures those products deliver on consumers’ expectations for taste, visual appearance, texture and more.
Staffed by a team of more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service specialists and R&D scientists, the new facility will serve as the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities.
“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.”
Construction has already begun, with the pilot center 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.
In keeping with Cargill’s commitment to sustainability, the new complex incorporates technology to reduce its ecological footprint, including the use of geothermal energy to significantly reduce energy consumption.
The investment follows a string of upgrades to the company’s adjacent Mouscron chocolate production facility, including new sugar-reduction capabilities added in 2019 and a liquid chocolate production line, which was completed in 2018.