US agribusiness company Cargill has announced its intention to buy the industrial chocolate facility Schierstedter Schokoladefabrik GmbH & Co. KG from its existing customer, Ludwig Schokolade GmbH & Co. KG.

The deal is subject to German regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by the summer, Cargill said. The facility is situated in Klein Schierstedt in eastern Germany and will become part of Cargill's chocolate business in Europe.

"This announcement marks the latest step in Cargill's strategy to become a leader in providing value-added, customer-focused solutions and will complement the company's existing chocolate offering to customers worldwide," said William Shaughnessy, head of Cargill's chocolate business in Europe.

"By buying the facility Cargill will strengthen its position in the German industrial chocolate market and gain access to customers in central and eastern Europe", he said. "Cargill was attracted to SSF not only because of its excellent geographic location but also as its product range complements Cargill's own portfolio and will provide us with a much wider variety of solid chocolate products. Cargill intends to further develop SSF's capabilities to serve the German and eastern European markets."

The announcement comes 16 months after Cargill's first significant investment in chocolate manufacturing in Europe with the purchase of OCG Cacao SA. Cargill now has chocolate facilities in France, Belgium and the UK. The company has been producing industrial and gourmet chocolate in the USA for several years under its Wilbur and, more recently, Peter's brands. Another Cargill-owned company, Fennema, produces compound coatings, fillings and chocolate products for use within the ice cream, bakery and confectionary industries.