Delfi counts major confectionery firms Nestle, Mars, Barry Callebaut and Meiji amongst its clients, and has seven other cocoa plants around the world, in Asia and Latin America.
The Hamburg plant was acquired in 2007, and the company immediately kicked off a €65m investment plan.
It has more than doubled capacity to 110,000 MT, extended capabilities from run-of-the-mill cocoa cake to a range of quality cocoa ingredients; and configured it to deal with standards such as the Rainforest Alliance requirements and single origin beans.
After trial production conducted since April, it has now begun full commercial production.
John Chuang, CEO of Petra Foods, said the new plant will bring more opportunities for synergies across the global network, and allow the company to respond more quickly to customer needs.
He added that the investment shows confidence in the long-term future of the chocolate market, in Europe and globally.
“Even during this current economic turmoil, we believe that, as a consumer product, chocolate confectionery is relatively crisis proof as it s an affordable product of indulgence. Once the crisis is over, we expect chocolate to continue on its growth path.”
Moreover, Chuang sees the upgrade as an advantage compared to constructing a factory on a greenfield site from scratch, saying that “cumulative investment cost on a tonne-by-tonne basis will be much lower”.
Petra Foods had planned to hold a ceremony to open the new factory on 19 May, but postponed it because of the global incidence influenza H1N1.
In addition to its cocoa ingredients division, Petra Foods also has a branded consumer division, with products sold in 17 (mainly Asian) countries.