Guan Chong Berhad, the world’s fourth largest cocoa grinder, has earmarked RM120 million (US$16.95 million) for its new cocoa ingredients plant in Côte d’Ivoire.
The capital expenditure for the fiscal year ending 31 December 2020 is one of the company’s initiatives to grow its position as a major industry player in the global market. It will also enhance the efficiency and sustainability of its operations.
At the company’s annual general meeting on Friday 26 June, Brandon Tay Hoe Lian, Guan Chong’s group managing director, said expansion works are still under way despite uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the development was supported by resilient and long-term growth in global consumption of cocoa ingredients.
“Despite the current moderated demand of chocolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term demand and prospects remain stable,” Tay said.
“We are therefore confident that our expansions will contribute to a firmer footing in the coming years, to be supported by enlarged capacity, expanded sales channels and improved competitiveness.
“While we foresee challenges remaining in the near term, going forward, we will focus on optimising our production process, as well as building our markets through our expansions into Europe and Côte d’Ivoire,” Tay said.
The new plant is expected to expand the group’s cocoa grinding capacity to 310,000 metric tonnes a year, compared to the current 250,000 metric tonnes.
Guan Chong’s headquarters are in Malaysia and the company runs key subsidiaries in Singapore and Indonesia. Founded in 2004, it is the fourth largest producer of cocoa grindings globally judging by capacity, surpassed only by longer-established names such as Barry Callebaut, Olam and Cargill.
In January this year, Guan Chong took over Schokinag Holding GmbH, a German-based industrial chocolate manufacturer. Schokinag will use up to 50% of the grindings capacity from the Côte d’Ivoire plant once construction is complete.
The Ivorian plant is Guan Chong’s first cocoa bean processing operation in Africa. The company hopes to commission the plant in the first quarter of 2021. It also has a stake in the US market through shares in Carlyle Cocoa Company Ltd, acquired in 2006.
“The expansion into both Côte d’Ivoire and Germany will provide the group with synergistic benefits as it looks to solidify its position as a key player in the global chocolate industry,” Guan Chong MD Tay said.