Cargill drives deeper into European chocolate market

Related tags Chocolate European union Germany Cargill

Pressure on European chocolate suppliers mounts as US agri-giant
extends its influence in Europe, announcing a deal to buy
industrial chocolate facility Schierstedter Schokoladefabrik from
existing customer, Ludwig Schokolade.

Located in Klein Schierstedt in eastern Germany, the acquisition builds on Cargill's entry into the European market in October 2003 when the private firm bought French cocoa and chocolate ingredients company OCG Cacoa.

Described at the time as a 'strategic fit', the purchase marked Cargill's first major investment in chocolate manufacturing.

Since then, Cargill has bought two cocoa processing activities in the York, UK and Hamburg, Germany from number one food maker Nestlé.

The deal today, still to be cleared by regulatory authorities, "will strengthen Cargill's position in the German industrial chocolate market and gain access to customers in central and eastern Europe,"​ says William Shaughnessy, head of Cargill's chocolate business in Europe.

A further attraction for the deal, claims Cargill, is SSF's product range that "complements Cargill's own portfolio and will provide us with a much wider variety of solid chocolate products."

While a relative newcomer to the EU chocolate market, currently dealing with stagnant sales on growing health concerns, Cargill has been producing industrial and gourmet chocolate in the USA for several years under its Wilbur and, more recently, Peter's brands.

Eating their way through about 10 kilos of chocolate a year, the British are Europe's number one chocolate consumer followed by Germany and France with 8.3 and 5.8 kilos respectively.

But according to Datamonitor​, the pace of growth in the market is slowing down, starting in 2004 when overall chocolate volume sales rose by less than 1 per cent to 605m kg.

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