The UK may be dropping out of the European Union on Friday 31 January, but the move hasn’t stopped Swiss-based chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut Group announcing a substantial £24m ($31m) investment in the UK market.
The company said production capacity at its main UK site in Banbury will increase by 25% over the next two years, and it wants to increase its UK penetration and carry on innovating to keep pace with changing consumer and market demands, while also investing in a sustainable supply chain. Barry Callebaut also has production facilities in Moreton and Chester.
Its revamped Chocolate Academy in Banbury, one of several located around the world, will be a hub for exploring and innovating on the latest trends, techniques and recipes in chocolate. It will also provide customers, global and local food manufacturers, as well as artisans and professional chocolatiers, with improved facilities and support for training.
‘Ready for Brexit’
Richard Terme, general manager UK, told ConfectioneryNews the investment programme commenced in 2019 and that Barry Callebaut is “ready for Brexit”, with plans to open a new line in 2020 for the manufacture of liquid chocolate at its Banbury factory.
Terme, a French national, has been in his current role for five months and has been with Barry Callebaut four and a half years. Previously, he lead the Group’s supply chain in Europe.
He said he enjoys living in the UK: it’s not only the second largest consumer of confectionery per capita in Europe, but it’s also a highly sophisticated market, which is why the Group has expanded its Chocolate Academy.
“The UK is a huge growth market, bursting with opportunity. The inauguration of this new Chocolate Academy Centre in Banbury marks yet another milestone in our successful growth story in the UK and over the next years, we will continue to invest in our business and strengthen our collaboration with food manufacturing and artisanal customers in the UK,” he said.
Terme added that, by expanding the Academy, it will be possible to train more people in confectionery, particularly on the gourmet side of the business, allowing Barry Callebaut to “follow the demand of its customers”.
He said the Academy will be in position to double the number of training places after being oversubscribed last year. Innovation will play a key role in the curriculum and courses will be available to those new to the chocolate industry, but who wish to start their own business.
Terme thinks the main trends in confectionery in 2020 will be dairy-free and vegan, which Barry Callebaut is supporting by introducing new products to meet consumer demand.
“In terms of our consumers, I would say dairy-free and vegan are very relevant. Our research suggests between 5-7% are fully compliant with these options, but there is a significantly growing market of occasional consumers who will choose dairy-free or vegan options when it suits them.”
As an example, the popular Magnum Ice Cream bars now include a vegan chocolate range, supplied by Barry Callebaut, proving that dairy-free is a huge and growing trend in Europe and North America.
Burton’s Biscuit Company
Barry Callebaut employs 370 people in the UK. Its operation grew with the acquisition of Burton’s Biscuit company in 2019 and it has a long-term agreement for the supply of over 12,000 tonnes of chocolate and compound a year to the site in Moreton, near Liverpool.
Terme said one of the strategy pillars of Barry Callebaut is expansion. “With Burton’s, we took over their plant and we are able to supply them with chocolate; so, we have a partnership, but people working in the facility are Barry Callebaut people, they're on our payroll, and we sell them the chocolate and compound.”
Barry Callebaut also develops chocolate products in partnership with other major brands such as Nestlé, Hershey, Unilever and confectionery giant Mondelēz International, which owns brands including Cadbury and Toblerone.