Against the backdrop of strong Asian chocolate demand, Aalst Chocolate, a Cargill company, unveiled plans to drive growth through its unique “bean to bar” positioning and customer-led product innovation for the Asia Pacific market.
Established in 2003, Aalst Chocolate is celebrating 20 years since its founding as the first Singaporean brand to produce both chocolate couvertures and compounds and has since built a solid foundation as a leading Asian chocolate manufacturer with product offerings curated especially for the Asian consumers.
“We are seeing a growing appetite for chocolate among consumers across the APAC region driven primarily by a large youth population, higher disposable incomes and emerging trends such as prioritization of indulgence, mindful eating and sustainability. People still want to enjoy tasty flavorful treats while being more conscious about the quality, nutritional value and source of the foods they are consuming,” said Xiaoling Liu, managing director, Aalst Chocolate and Indulgence Leader, Food Solutions Asia Pacific, Cargill.
Based on Cargill’s proprietary TrendTracker 2023 study, 81% of APAC consumers have tried to improve their overall health in ways such as choosing healthier options when it comes to their diet. At the same time, 58% of consumers say that it is important to indulge or pamper themselves on a regular basis. Combining Cargill’s in-depth and region-specific market insights with Aalst’s innovative capabilities, Aalst has created products with nature-derived low-caloric sweetener, like Pâtissier Chocolate dark couverture 55% with no added sugar and Aalst mellow sweet white chocolate 34%, to respond to the growing consumer demand in Asia for healthy and mindful consumption.
“Asia is an exciting and dynamic marketplace with fast-evolving consumer trends and taste preferences, which offers a clear opportunity for food manufacturers to innovate to meet these consumption demands. With Aalst’s established reputation, robust in-house innovation capabilities and our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Singapore, we are well-poised to continue supporting our customers in their product development needs and work with them to co-create novel chocolate products which consumers love and enjoy,” she continued.
Aalst’s vision to grow as a chocolate company “from Asia for Asia” was given a boost when it was acquired by Cargill, a global food and agriculture company, in 2021. As part of Cargill, Aalst has been able to expand beyond a chocolate company to truly become a “bean to bar” innovator, integrating and leveraging Cargill’s extensive cocoa sourcing capabilities and global cocoa customer networks, presenting an overall stronger and secure supply chain. Aalst’s local R&D expertise is further supported by Cargill’s four Asian food innovation centers in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Gurgaon, which accelerate Aalst’s capability for product innovation tailored for Asian palates.
To better keep pace with consumers’ desire for unguilty pleasures and sustainability, the Cargill Cocoa Promise strengthens Aalst’s ability to help customers meet their sustainability goals. Aalst also has a Clean Label range of chocolate solutions under the Pâtissier Chocolate brand that meets the demand for greater supply chain transparency and sustainably sourced ingredients.
“Today, Asia accounts for about 25% of cocoa consumption in the world. It is the fastest growing region in terms of volume, value and especially stands out for its immense innovation potential. Within the next 10 years, Asia is expected to overtake North America as the second largest chocolate market in the world. By unlocking the power of our “bean to bar” supply chain, insights-driven innovation and customized sustainability solutions, we see Aalst as a driving force shaping the chocolate sector through innovation in Asia and the world, delivering greater value as the partner of choice for innovation and growth,” said Francesca Kleemans, managing director, Food Solutions Southeast Asia, Cargill.
“Aalst has been on an incredible journey of growth over the past two decades. Thanks to the courage and foresight of its founders, the tireless dedication of our staff as well as the enduring support and partnerships with our customers, we are proud to have played a role in putting Singapore and Asia on the global map of chocolate. As we herald a new growth era for Aalst, we are energized to continue making our mark in Asia where the future of chocolate lies and reaffirming the company's reputation as an integrated and innovative chocolate solutions provider for customers across the region and beyond,” concluded Xiaoling.