SINGAPORE- Aalst Chocolate, a subsidiary of Cargill, has expanded in Asia through its”bean to bar” strategy and a focus on customer-driven product innovation as demand for chocolate products in Asia increases.

For the last two decades, Aalst Chocolate has held the distinction of being the first Singaporean brand to craft chocolate couverture and compounds, and it has since established itself as a premier Asian chocolate manufacturer, offering products specifically presented to Asian consumers.

According to Francesca Kleemans, Managing Director for Food Solutions Southeast Asia at Cargill, Asia now accounts for approximately 25% of global cocoa consumption, and it stands out as the fastest-growing region in terms of volume and value.

She emphasized that Asia is poised to surpass North America to become the world’s second-largest chocolate market within the next decade.

“By harnessing the potential of our ‘bean to bar’ supply chain, data-driven innovation, and customized sustainability solutions, we see Aalst Chocolate as a pioneering force shaping the chocolate industry through innovation in Asia and beyond,” Kleemans said.

“We aim to provide superior value as the preferred partner for innovation and growth.”

In parallel, Xiaoling Liu, Managing Director of Aalst Chocolate and leader of indulgence at Food Solutions Asia Pacific, Cargill, noted that there is a growing demand for chocolate among consumers across the APAC region.

This trend, he said was primarily driven by a youthful population, rising disposable incomes, and emerging preferences such as a focus on indulgence, mindful eating, and sustainability.

“Consumers still desire to relish delicious, flavorful treats while being increasingly conscious of the quality, nutritional attributes, and sourcing of the foods they consume,” Liu added.

“As we embark on a new era of growth for Aalst, we are enthusiastic about making our mark in Asia, where the future of chocolate beckons. We are committed to reinforcing the company’s identity as an integrated and innovative chocolate solutions provider for customers throughout the region and beyond.”

Cargill’s proprietary TrendTracker 2023 study revealed that  81% of APAC consumers have taken steps to enhance their overall health by choosing healthier dietary options.

Simultaneously, 58% of consumers consider it important to indulge or pamper themselves regularly. Capitalizing on Cargill’s market insights, Aalst has developed products featuring naturally derived low-calorie sweeteners.

“Asia is a dynamic marketplace marked by rapidly evolving consumer trends and flavor preferences. This presents a clear opportunity for food manufacturers to innovate and cater to these evolving consumption patterns,” Liu acknowledged.

“With Aalst’s established reputation, robust in-house innovation capabilities, and our manufacturing facility in Singapore, we are exceptionally positioned to continue supporting our customers in their product development endeavors and collaborate on creating novel chocolate products.”

Aalst’s aspiration to evolve into a “chocolate company from Asia for Asia” boosted significantly with Cargill’s acquisition in 2021.

Now operating under Cargill, Aalst has effectively integrated and leveraged Cargill’s cocoa sourcing expertise and global cocoa customer networks, resulting in a more robust and secure supply chain.