EUROPE – Global agribusiness giant, Cargill has unveiled intentions to acquire Belgium based Smet Chocolaterie, expanding its cocoa and chocolate business in Europe.

The deal will bring together expertise from Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business and the family-owned business which supplies chocolate and sweets decorations to the food service and confectionary markets.

Smet Chocolaterie’s product range include chocolate and chocolate products including gluten-free and organic variants available in Australia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Founded in 1963, the company operates in 50 countries worldwide and operates two manufacturing sites in Belgium and Poland, employing approximately 90 people.

Cargill said that the acquisition which complements its business capabilities, will reinforce its growth strategy in the gourmet segment with a commitment to its customers.

With Smet, Cargill indicated that it will broaden its product portfolio and services to artisans and chocolatiers, bakery, hospitality businesses and food service industries.

“Smet enjoys great market recognition. As their brand joins Cargill’s existing brand portfolio, their unique entrepreneurial capabilities will be leveraged to allow for a dedicated focus on gourmet customers,” said Inge Demeyere, managing director of Cargill’s chocolate activities in Europe.

“Together we intend to further strengthen our customer relationships and we look forward to continuing to serve customers’ chocolate needs, today and in the future.”

According to Cargill, the deal will enable better serve customers who will benefit from increased intimacy and high speed-to-market with new decoration technology, enhanced production capabilities and a wide-ranging product portfolio.

“Cargill provides us with a unique opportunity to serve our customers with a globally integrated cocoa and chocolate supply chain, a renowned sustainability approach and deep chocolate expertise,” said Johan Smet, CEO of Smet.

The transaction which is expected to close in the first half of 2019, is subject to consultation procedures with the appropriate employee representative bodies.

Cargill acquired Germany-based integrated chocolate company, Schwartauer Werke GmbH & Co (KVB) in 2011 to expand its chocolate business in Europe.

In 2015, the company acquired ADM’s global chocolate business for US$440 million, reinforcing its chocolate growth strategy and strengthening its position as a leader in the cocoa and chocolate industry.