American agribusiness Cargill announced this week that a $100 million capacity expansion project at its Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire cocoa processing plant has reached completion. The site is now the biggest cocoa grinding operation in Africa.
“Consumers, especially in Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African markets, are increasingly drawn to bakery and confectionery products with the strong, chocolatey visual appeal made possible by rich, deep brown cocoa powders,” Niels Boetje, Cocoa managing director for Cargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business, said in a company release. “With the new technology installed at our Yopougon plant, we’re now better equipped to supply the full range of our customers’ needs, from delicate light to intensely dark Gerkens cocoa powders.”
The company said it launched the expansion effort in response to “unprecedented demand” for its cocoa and chocolate products. In addition, Cargill also sees the project as part of its broader efforts to transform the cocoa sector.
“This investment will serve as a catalyst for the establishment of a broader, local agri-food industry, as we shift a greater share of our global grinding activities to the countries of origin,” said Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, in a statement.
To support local cocoa farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Cargill plans to invest $13 million next year in coaching and training efforts, as well as $3.5 million to support traceability projects.
Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa. The Yopougon facility opened in 2000. The location manufactures cocoa powder, cocoa butter, liquid cocoa liquor, solid cocoa liquor, and ingredients.
Plans for the project at the Yopougon plant were first announced in late 2019. Cargill said at the time that it also intended to invest $13 million to expand its cocoa processing plant in Tema, Ghana.