Belcolade opens first carbon-neutral chocolate factory in Belgium

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Belcolade’s new green factory at Erembodegem, Belgium. Pic: Belcolade
Belcolade’s new green factory at Erembodegem, Belgium. Pic: Belcolade

Related tags Belcolade Belgium Chocolate Puratos

Belcolade, the Puratos-owned Belgian Chocolate brand, has opened a new carbon-neutral chocolate factory, running on 100% renewable electricity, sourcing 90% of its water from collected rainwater, and using five times less energy in heat production.

The carbon-neutral factory in Erembodegem, Belgium, is the first to be opened in the country and forms part of Belcolade’s Cacao-Trace sustainable cocoa programme, which includes empowering cocoa farmers, promoting biodiversity as part of creating a sustainable cocoa chain across the globe.

Belcolade has also committed to making all packaging materials across its operations fully recyclable by 2025. This move will further reduce the brand’s environmental footprint and help customers take meaningful steps toward their sustainability goals.

Belcolade factory 3 inside
Inside Belcolade’s carbon-neutral chocolate factory. Pic: Belcolade

Youri Dumont, who leads the Belcolade business, outlined more details of the brand’s sustainability journey to ConfectioneryNews and said, “Its commitment to value creation is contributing to a better, brighter future for communities and the planet​.”

Building trust through transparency

Belcolade’s Cacao-Trace sustainable cocoa programme has been designed to produce the best quality cocoa – thanks to a highly specialised fermentation process – and to protect the environment and add social value to communities worldwide.

Dumont said one of the core aims of Cacao-Trace is to answer directly to the need for a more sustainable and transparent cocoa supply chain. Technical support and coaching, delivered on the farms and in Cacao-Trace post-harvest centres, helps cocoa farmers diversify their income, increase their yields, and improve the quality of their beans.

By working alongside them to further professionalise their farm management skills, Cacao-Trace empowers cocoa farmers to obtain a substantial quality premium in addition to the farmgate price and to manage their farms with greater autonomy. Furthermore, he commented that farmers are trained in environmental protection techniques, such as agroforestry, to bring more biodiversity, better climate resistance, and new sources of income to communities.

The programme also strives to fight against the imbalance in profit-sharing throughout the value chain. It does this by guaranteeing a premium price and an extra Chocolate Bonus of 10-euro cent per kg of chocolate sold, which accounts for two to five additional months of revenue.

The Chocolate Bonus proceeds go to the farmers to increase their living income or implement meaningful community projects, such as building schools health centers, and offering drinkable water equipment.

A brighter future on the horizon

Since 2016, over €4.5 million ($4.78m) has been collected for Cacao-Trace cocoa farming communities in Cote d’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico, Uganda, and Cameroon.

The brand has also set its sights on a more ambitious future, with objectives including offering 100% sustainable cocoa by 2025, growing the Cacao-Trace community to 25,000 farmers by 2025, planting 3,440,000 trees by 2030, and reaching Living Income for all cocoa farmers by 2030.

Achieving change – one carefully selected bean at a time

As the Belgian Chocolate brand for professionals, Belcolade believes it has a responsibility to provide supply chain visibility, from harvesting to processing. Cacao-Trace cocoa is subject to a controlled separation process throughout the entire supply chain, which guarantees the physical traceability and governance of Cacao-Trace chocolate.

This high level of transparency benefits everyone. It helps to improve the lives of farmers, it means manufacturers can be confident in their claims, and it caters to consumers seeking sustainably sourced, superior-tasting chocolate​,” said Dumont.

With the brand growing its global reach and branching out to make more factories carbon-neutral, Belcolade’s Cacao-Trace sustainable cocoa programme is on track to becoming the trusted and sustainable supply partner of choice for chocolate and patisserie professionals, Dumont confirmed.

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