UK general manager Richard Terme spoke to Food Manufacture on the back of a £24m investment in the manufacturer’s production in the UK, which will see an increase in capacity at its site in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
“Effectively, we have a new chocolate line that will come live at the end of the first quarter of next year – an expansion of additional capacity for the factory,” said Terme. “In terms of range of products, we will continue to produce chocolate compound and filling, but we will not do additional types of products.”
Due to the highly automated nature of the production at Barry Callebaut’s Banbury site, Terme said there would be little impact on jobs and there would be no big recruitment announcement either.
News of the investment coincided with the launch of the manufacturer’s new chocolate academy, which focused on the gourmet and artisan section of the market.
“This new academy will double our training capacity in order to support demand,” Terme explained. “It’s clearly an investment in the gourmet segment where we are growing as well.
Already a major supplier of liquid chocolate to a number of manufacturers in the UK, Barry Callebaut broke new ground last year with the launch of what it described as the fourth variety of chocolate – ruby.
While its production facilities in the UK will not focus on new product development (NPD), the producer planned to continue supporting the variety along with demand. This year alone has already seen Unilever launch a ruby variant of its Magnum ice cream bar.
“At this stage we have a significant volume, but we prefer to have one sourcing point that will distribute across Europe,” Terme added.
“For vegan/dairy-free it’s the same approach. It’s a new trend – a very good, very solid trend – but we have one sourcing point in Europe and we supply the demand. Again, there are no plans for dairy-free chocolate in the UK for the time being.”
This isn’t to say that Barry Callebaut has no plans to support vegan chocolate in the UK. Though unable to name names, Terme did confirm that it was working on a number of projects with customers involving dairy-free chocolate.
“The trend is growing … and if the trend is growing, we will potentially have to make further investment to support the trend in Europe or the UK.”
Running alongside the manufacturer’s plans to expand are a series of sustainability commitments – named Forever Chocolate – that it was seeking to achieve by 2025, a vision built on four key pillars.
First, the chocolate maker aimed to have 100% of its ingredients coming from a sustainable source, up from 51% of its ingredients in 2020. Barry Callebaut also aimed to become carbon- and forest-positive by 2025, eradicate child labour in its supply chain and bring half a million cocoa farmers out of poverty.
As for the future of the business, Terme confirmed Barry Callebaut was still on the lookout for opportunities to expand through outsourcing and partnerships, similar to its deal with Burton’s Biscuits in 2018.
“The unique position we have as chocolate company [is] we are the only chocolate manufacturer sourcing our own cocoa,” he continued. “It gives us a unique position in the market, with a very longstanding tradition and expertise when it comes to working with chocolate and cocoa.”