Following a report by Reuters at the end of last week, ConfectioneryNews.com secured an exclusive interview with Cargill’s Wendy Garbutt, in which she divulged the company’s plans to open its first cocoa processing facility in Asia and develop its sugar processing capabilities in Brazil.
“Directionally, we are keen to grow our existing sugar and cocoa operations,” she said. “We have developed strong relationships with customers and believe our global presence and insights give us an opportunity to connect surplus with deficit in an efficient and effective manner, and increase our own processing operations where this makes sense and when we spot good opportunities.”
She confirmed that Cargill is currently exploring the opportunity to invest in a new cocoa processing facility in Indonesia to produce cocoa powders and cocoa butter.
“This will enable us to better serve our customers in Asia and to meet the increasing demand for these products in the region,” she explained.
She added: “Cargill is one of the largest cocoa and chocolate producers serving the global food market with high quality cocoa and chocolate ingredients. Our intended investment in Indonesia underlines our commitment to grow our global business and our network of well established operations in Europe, West Africa and the USA.”
This will be Cargill’s first cocoa processing plant in the region, although the US-headquartered agri-food business has been present in Indonesia for 35 years through its bean drying station in Makassar, which employs 55 workers. It also operates three cocoa buying stations in Vietnam and a sales office in Shanghai.
“We see this as a great opportunity to continue to invest and grow our successful business operations in the country as well as help support economic growth and business development in the market,” said Garbutt.
She emphasised that plans are still at an early stage, but said the new facility is expected to be operational within the next few years.
She also revealed that Cargill sees opportunities to ‘expand its presence’ and ‘secure supply for customers’ through the acquisition of sugar mills in top sugar producer Brazil.
On Monday, the group announced that it had entered into a joint venture with Grupo USJ, a Brazilian sugar cane processor. Operating under the name SJC Bioenergia, the partnership combines Cargill’s experience as a global trader of sugar and ethanol with Grupo USJ’s sugar processing assets. These consist of the São Francisco mill, in operation since 2007 in Quirinópolis, and the Cachoeira Dourada mill, which is currently under construction in the same municipality.
The venture will have an installed capacity to process up to 7.5 million metric tons of sugarcane in 2013, once Cachoeira Dourada is concluded.
Ultimately, the aim is to increase crushing capacity to 15 million metric tons, which will place SJC Bioenergia among the largest producers of sugar in Brazil.