US agri-food group Cargill has entered an agreement to acquire Singapore-based chocolate maker Aalst.
Aalst Chocolate was founded in 2003 and makes products for retail consumers sold under its own brands, including Louella, while also serving the foodservice channel and manufacturers.
Cargill, a major supplier globally of B2B chocolate and cocoa products, did not disclose the financial terms for the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval.
“The acquisition will significantly expand Cargill’s Asia-Pacific footprint, adding chocolate to its existing portfolio of cocoa products already sold throughout the region,” Minnesota-based Cargill said in a statement.
Approached by Just Food to clarify the size of Aalst’s consumer- and retail-focused business, a Cargill spokesperson confirmed it was about 3%. The Singaporean company does not publicly disclose its financial results.
“While we will focus on growing industrial and foodservice, which are core segments of Aalst’s business, we also see the retail segment as an important channel for us to capture consumer insights, trends and inspiration to bring back into the ingredients and foodservice space, and thereby create a more valuable service and product development for our customers,” the spokesperson for the US firm said.
Richard Lee, the founder and chief executive of Aalst, said in the statement: “We are proud of Aalst Chocolate’s heritage as a Singapore company with a renowned presence of over 18 years in Asia’s chocolate industry. Together with Cargill’s global expertise and experience, we believe that this new venture will be well-positioned to harness the full potential of exciting synergetic growth possibilities and become an ideal integrated chocolate solution provider for our customers.”
Aalst supplies more than 50 international markets, including other countries in south-east Asia, and China, South Korea, Japan and the Oceania region in the Asia Pacific. It makes artisan chocolates and compounds, “premium retail chocolate products”, and “luxury” pralines.
Upon completion of the transaction, Aalst’s manufacturing plant in Singapore and its R&D “capabilities” in the city-state and Shanghai in China, along with the firm’s 200 employees, will become part of Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate Asia-Pacific operations.
“The rapidly-growing Asian marketplace is increasingly wielding its influence around the globe, sparking inspiration and driving international trends,” Francesca Kleemans, the managing director for those operations, said in the statement. “Joining with Aalst strengthens our position in this critical region, enabling us to become the supplier-of-choice for industrial and foodservice customers.
“With an expanded selection of value-added and specialty chocolate products and deep technical expertise, together we can accelerate innovation, better helping customers create products that continue to surprise and delight.”
Aside from the deal for Aalst, Cargill added it is due to start its first Asian chocolate manufacturing operations in India in September to produce chocolate and chocolate compounds for the local market. In 2014, the company opened its first Asian cocoa processing facility in Gresik, Indonesia.