Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is currently assessing the impact of an explosion that occurred on a production line at its cocoa processing facility in Wormer, Netherlands, which was followed by a short, intense fire.
There were no injuries and the warehouse was unaffected, said Sara Vermeulen, director of European marketing and communications for ADM, in relation to the incident which occured on Wednesday 19 January.
In late 2003, there was a fire at the same plant, which is one of the biggest facilities of its kind in the world. That fire then spread to stored cocoa and subsequently burned for several days.
But a spokesperson for ADM told ConfectioneryNews.com that although it was still investigating the exact cause of this explosion, last week's fire started in a different location within the facility than that the 2003 blaze, and that two incidents are, therefore, unrelated.
Jonathan Parkman, joint head of agriculture at Marex Financial, said that due to the scale of the factory, it was "potentially a big factor for the cocoa products market". However, he said the fire was unlikely to affect cocoa futures markets.
UK's lack of sprinkler systems
Meanwhile, of all the major European countries, the UK lags the furthest behind for the use of sprinkler systems to prevent fires in food warehouses, according to the UK's Fire Protection Association (FPA).
Dr James Glockling, technical director of the FPA said this could cost firms more than double in repairmen costs.
Glocking estimates that business losses in the UK for 2008 that were a result of fire topped £865m. In Germany, damage as a result of fire for the same period cost just £400m.
UK industrial and commercial warehouses have to be bigger than 20,000m2 before sprinklers become mandatory, said the FPA. That is 10 times or more than the mandatory threshold size in Germany, Spain, Denmark and The Netherlands. France, a major food producer like the UK, requires sprinklers to be installed in warehouses over 3,000m2.