US agribusiness giant Cargill has completed a US$82m upgrade to a cocoa processing facility in the Netherlands.

The investment, Cargill said today (19 April), which has increased production capacity at its site in Wormer is in response to growing customer demand for high-quality cocoa powders that are tailor-made to individual specifications. The Wormer facility processes cocoa liquor into cocoa butter and powder.

A spokesperson for Cargill said the company was not releasing precise figures on the capacity increase.

In addition to the upgrade, Cargill has opened a ‘Center of Expertise’ for cocoa, which brings together the company’s “cocoa quality, technology and innovation”. The centre includes a quality control laboratory, a pilot plant for product and process development, in addition to an expanded taste panel.

“This investment is another demonstration of Cargill’s commitment to providing our customers with a broader and more bespoke service to meet their individual needs,” Jos de Loor, managing director of Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate, said today (19 April). “This new world-class facility, along with our existing network and our food ingredient expertise will support our cocoa and chocolate growth strategy.”

The investment has also enabled Cargill to open a fully automated cocoa powder warehouse and distribution centre in Amsterdam, enabling the company to store three times as much product per square metre as conventional warehouses in the port, it said.

“The Netherlands has been a focal point of Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business for many years,” de Loor added. “Our new center of expertise will offer our customers even greater innovation and insight, while upgrades to our production and storage capacities will mean they will also benefit from higher quality and customer service.”