Agribusiness company Cargill has received approval from the German competition authorities to acquire an industrial chocolate facility - the Schierstedter Schokoladefabrik - from its existing customer, Ludwig Schokolade.

The facility is situated in Klein Schierstedt in eastern Germany and will strengthen Cargill's chocolate portfolio in Europe, the company said.

Cargill completed its first significant investment in chocolate manufacturing in Europe 18 months ago with the purchase of OCG Chocolate Cacao SA. The addition of the industrial chocolate facility emphasises Cargill's commitment to this market and to providing value-added customer focused solutions, it said.

"This acquisition will greatly strengthen our position in the German industrial chocolate market and grant us access to customers throughout central and eastern Europe", said William Shaughnessy, head of Cargill's chocolate business in Europe. "We intend to invest significantly in this facility and will now begin consulting with customers to assess where that investment should be. The investments are likely to include increased production capabilities and expansion of specialty product lines."

The Klein Schierstedt facility's product range complements Cargill's own portfolio and the acquisition now allows Cargill to offer a wide range of specialty chocolate from flakes, drops and chunks, to an array of white chocolates, to unique chocolate flavours, as well as a portfolio of compound coatings and inclusions. At the same time, Cargill's worldwide presence and financial strength will provide the facility with a sound basis upon which to grow.

The facility's current sales team now becomes part of the existing Cargill sales network of established professionals in Germany, Poland and other countries in the region.