EUROPE – Swiss based chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has agreed to acquire Europe Chocolate Company (ECC), a Belgian B2B manufacturer of specialty chocolate ingredients, for an undisclosed sum.

ECC operates a chocolate factory and warehouse in Malle, near Antwerp in Belgium where it produces a wide range of specialty chocolate and decorations in multiple taste and color variations including batons, curls, chunks, leaves and shavings.

The Belgian-based company supplies a variety of customers in multiple industries such as biscuit, bakery, dairy, ice cream, confectionery and food service.

ECC’s acquisition will enable Barry Callebaut to expand its value-adding specialties capabilities, enabling it to cater to the growing demand from food manufacturers for highly customized industrial chocolate.

Barry’s acquisition is timely as the global chocolate market size which was valued at US$130.56 billion in 2019 is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027.

Rising awareness regarding dark chocolate as a healthier confectionery product, which consists of antioxidants that protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays, is expected to continue fueling the market growth over the next few years.

Furthermore, impulse buying behavior among millennials and youngsters as a result of increased awareness from social websites and satellite television channels by confectionery companies, such as Nestle SA and Mars Incorporated, is projected to have a positive impact on the industry growth.

“The acquisition will help us to further broaden our market position thanks to ECC’s unique know-how and its highly flexible manufacturing facility in Belgium,” said Wim Debedts, VP of food manufacturers western Europe at Barry Callebaut.

Upon completion, ECC will be integrated into Barry Callebaut’s specialised chocolate molding capabilities and will enable the Swiss group to offer new tailor-made solutions.

Eric Van Tichelen, managing director of ECC, added: “I am very proud of the specialty chocolate business we have built from scratch over the past close to 30 years. Joining the Barry Callebaut family will enable and accelerate ECC’s growth with access to new customers, new geographies via a broad sales network, helping to accentuate our unique proposition.”

Last year, Barry Callebaut acquired chocolate producer GKC Foods, in an effort to strengthen its position in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

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