Responding to an Asian marketplace sweet on chocolate products, Cargill has entered into an agreement to acquire Aalst Chocolate, a Singapore-based chocolate manufacturer. Pending regulatory approval and closing conditions, the acquisition will significantly expand Cargill's Asia-Pacific footprint, adding chocolate to its existing portfolio of cocoa products sold throughout the region.
"The rapidly growing Asian marketplace is increasingly wielding its influence around the globe, sparking inspiration and driving international trends," said Francesca Kleemans, managing director for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Asia-Pacific. "Joining with Aalst strengthens our position in this critical region, enabling us to become the supplier of choice for industrial and foodservice customers. With an expanded selection of value-added and specialty chocolate products and deep technical expertise, together we can accelerate innovation, better-helping customers create products that continue to surprise and delight."
Aalst's large customer base spans more than 50 countries, exporting to industrial, retail and foodservice clients in key markets such as India, China, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Korea and Japan. Its comprehensive portfolio features six distinct brands, with offerings that include both bake-stable and artisan chocolates and compounds, in addition to a range of premium retail chocolate products and luxury pralines.
By partnering together, the two companies will leverage their collective strengths, bringing customers increased security of a reliable supply of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, better product sensory experience with their combined R&D competencies, and through the Cargill Cocoa Promise, access to a robust sourcing network that aims to ensure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.
Upon completing the transaction, all Aalst assets, including its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Singapore, R&D capabilities in Singapore and Shanghai, and its over 200 employees across the region, will join Cargill's cocoa and chocolate Asia-Pacific operations. With its unparalleled supply chain infrastructure and extensive international trade agreements, Singapore remains Cargill's strategic regional business hub.
"Singapore and made-in-Singapore products are both highly regarded and reputed for meeting stringent world-class standards. We are proud of Aalst Chocolate's heritage as a Singapore company with a renowned presence of over 18 years in Asia's chocolate industry. Together with Cargill's global expertise and experience, we believe that this new venture will be well-positioned to harness the full potential of exciting synergetic growth possibilities and become an ideal integrated chocolate solution provider for our customers," said Richard Lee, founder and chief executive officer of Aalst Chocolate.
On the heels of Cargill's acquisition of Aalst, the company is gearing up to start its first Asian chocolate manufacturing operations in India next month, producing chocolate and chocolate compounds for the domestic market.
Prior to this, Cargill opened its first Asian cocoa processing facility in Gresik, Indonesia, in 2014 and subsequently launched new Gerkens cocoa powders for the region in 2016 and 2019. Today's announcement further affirms Cargill's commitment to the sector. It expands its presence in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific cocoa and chocolate market, positioning it as a trusted cocoa supplier, local chocolate manufacturer and regional chocolate expert.