In Asia, Vietnam creates a new cocoa organisation and Lotte acquires Cozy Corner cakes; while on a more light-hearted note, a chocolate-fuelled truck completes its travels in Africa.
Vietnam forms new cocoa organisation
The Vietnamese government plans to separate its Coffee and Cocoa Association into separate entities as part of its drive to improve the country's chocolate industry, an official told Reuters Friday.
The original association is now to be known as the Vietnam Coffee Association, while the cocoa organisation will be created over the next two years once the country's industry is "more mature", the government said.
Vietnam has been aiming to persuade farmers to grow the commodity ever since the coffee price crash in the 1990s, which caused the farming industry to fall into financial chaos.
In December, the Vietnamese government promised to expand the cocoa planting area to 80,000 hectares by 2020, in an attempt to swell the overall cocoa crop to 45,000 tonnes.
The government said at the time it hopes to encourage more Western confectionery manufacturers to follow the example of confectionery companies such as Barry Callebaut and Cargill, both of which already purchase cocoa from the country.
Lotte finalises acquisition of Cozy Corner cakes
Asian confectionery giant Lotte has now signed on the dotted line to acquire Japanese bakery firm Ginza Cozy Corner, the company said Friday.
The deal, estimated to be worth ¥20bn (€123.6m), will give the Korea-based Lotte company 300 cake shops chiefly located in Tokyo's metropolitan area.
Lotte is currently one of the biggest food companies in the Asia Pacific region, with total net sales of ¥448.5bn in the tax ending March 2007.
The company has manufacturing facilities in South Korea, China and Japan, and earlier this year it signed an agreement to help US company Hershey operate in the region.
'Chocolate' truck completes petrol free journey….. almost
A voyage across Africa in a truck powered by chocolate biofuel has been completed, although news reports claim that the explorers had to resort to more traditional forms of power just 30km before the end of the planned journey.
In November last year, ConfectioneryNews.com reported on how a UK firm, Ecotec, developed a method of turning waste products from chocolate processing, usually dumped in landfills, into biofuel.
A pair of environmentally-friendly friends from the company, Andy Pag and John Grimshaw, then decided to use the chocolaty mix to power a 4,500 mile trip across Africa, as part of a bid to raise public awareness about biofuels on the way.
According to the Environmental Transport Association, the trip was a roaring success, although the two men did run into trouble at the end, and had to make use of ten litres of petrol and 10 litres of diesel to complete the trip.