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Barry Callebaut acquires chocolate expert from Flanders

The world’s largest chocolate manufacturer just got a little bigger! Historically rooted in Flanders and now headquartered in the Swiss capital of Zurich, Barry Callebaut is acquiring Europe Chocolate Company (ECC). This Flanders-based chocolate expert from Malle near Antwerp may not immediately ring a bell, but whenever you eat a chocolate-covered doughnut, there’s a big chance you’re enjoying chocolate from ECC.

Cocoa deco

Specializing in chocolate decorations such as curls for cakes, chunks for donuts and cocoa sticks in butter cookies, family business ECC is considered the market leader in its niche in Western Europe.

We at Barry Callebaut have been working with ECC for a long time. There is no successor in the family business, hence the acquisition. 

Wim Debedts, VP of Food Manufacturers Western Europe at Barry Callebaut

Barry Callebaut is already active in the chocolate decoration market segment, but in acquiring ECC, the Swiss chocolate giant will greatly expand its product range. This will allow the company to capitalize on rising global demand for all kinds of chocolate shavings and chips.

Finger-licking track record in Flanders

Even more, through the acquisition, Barry Callebaut is further expanding its footprint in Flanders. In the region, the chocolate king already operates the world’s largest chocolate factory in the town of Wieze as well as a second factory in Halle. Together, these two factories in Flanders are responsible for a quarter of the group’s global chocolate production.

But the Swiss firm’s presence in Flanders doesn’t end there. In the latter half of 2021, Barry Callebaut is opening a brand-new distribution center – the world’s largest chocolate warehouse – in the city of Lokeren. This investment project earned the company the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy, presented by Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) in 2020.

Furthermore, in Kortrijk, West Flanders, Barry Callebaut operates a smaller site for chocolate decorations. Once fully acquired, the ECC site in Malle will reinforce Barry Callebaut’s local footprint.

Locally anchored, locally committed

The acquisition of ECC by Barry Callebaut is expected to be completed in the coming months. In 2020, ECC, which is 80 employees strong, recorded EUR 42 million in sales, an operating profit of EUR 485,000 and a net profit of just under a quarter of a million euros. After the acquisition, ECC management will stay the same and its personnel will also remain on board. Barry Callebaut currently already employs 1,800 people in Belgium and Flanders as a region. Talk about local anchorage!

More info

Barry Callebaut
Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
7 July 2021

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