Cargill has announced plans for a 700 square-meter “House of Chocolate” complex at its Mouscron, Belgium, site. The complex will be built alongside the company’s existing chocolate production plant and include a chocolate experience center, pilot plant, sensory lab and creative workspace for the company’s European R&D team of chocolate engineers.

The complex will be designed to enable customers to experience the convenience of an all-in-one development process, from inspiration, innovation and training, through pilot lab testing, and sensory testing, culminating in commercial-scale production.

“Innovation stands at the forefront of our House of Chocolate, as we bring together all our expertise and resources,” says Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “It will allow us to collaborate with customers at every step of their product development journey, transforming ideas into reality using a streamlined approach to facilitate innovation and deliver greater efficiency and speed to market”.

Staffed by a team of more than 40 chocolate engineers, including sensory experts, technical service specialists and R&D scientists, the new facility will serve as the hub for all of Cargill’s chocolate, coating and filling activities.

“It’s fitting we make this investment in Belgium, given the unique place it holds in the chocolate world,” says Inge Demeyere, managing director for Cargill Chocolate Europe. “Our House of Chocolate builds on that rich tradition, offering customers a unique venue to discover all that’s possible with our state-of-the-art capabilities and our broad range of brands including Cargill, Veliche Gourmet and Smet.”

Construction has already begun, with the pilot center scheduled to open in autumn 2021. The chocolate experience center and sensory lab will be operational in January 2022. The new complex will create around 10 new jobs in the community.

In keeping with Cargill’s commitment to sustainability, the new complex incorporates technology to reduce its ecological footprint, including the use of geothermal energy to significantly reduce energy consumption.

The investment follows a string of upgrades to the company’s adjacent Mouscron chocolate production facility, including new sugar-reduction capabilities, added in 2019, and a liquid chocolate production line, which was completed in 2018.