KENOSHA, WIS. — Puratos US celebrated the installation of a new production line at its chocolate plant in Wisconsin on Feb. 23. The line was added to respond to increased demand.
“The types of products we have and the high quality that we have is resonating really well with our customers,” said Andy Brimacombe, president of Puratos US, who was on hand for the celebration. “We’ve seen really strong growth over the last couple of years in volume. As a result, we’re continuing to invest in the business.”
The production line, the fifth at the facility, will help the company increase capacity up to 20%. The facility produces high-protein, organic, non-GMO and other special chocolate and cocoa products under its domestic Chocolante and Carat brands. It also will produce Cacao-Trace chocolate and compound coatings from Puratos’ sustainable cocoa sourcing program.
“A lot of it is chips and chunks, that’s the most common format,” Mr. Brimacombe said. “Effectively it gives us more capacity in those formats which are our key formats and the ones selling well.”
The day included tours, chocolate tasting and chocolate-based giveaways for employees at the plant.
“A lot of the focus will be celebrating the success the team has had to be awarded this investment in the first place and thank them and to demonstrate we’re committed to the Kenosha, Wis., area and we’re continuing to invest in it,” Mr. Brimacombe said.
The company has seen a surge in demand for better-for-you (BFY) chocolate, which is part of the company’s Belcolade brand produced in Belgium.
“We’re seeing the BFY market growing faster than the mainstream market,” he said. “We’re trying to target the BFY segments with our products. We have the sugar-reduced and the dairy-free, which are particularly fast-growing segments within the market.”
Puratos works with farmers in several countries, including Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Mexico and Papua New Guinea, that grow cocoa beans for its chocolate. The company’s Cacao-Trace sustainability program strives to provide better wages for farmers and pay for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure in their communities.
“We have a phrase: ‘There’s no profit without sustainability. But there’s no sustainability without profit,’” Mr. Brimacombe said. “We’re trying to create that win-win because what we see is that if you don’t invest in these communities, people leave and go to urban areas, and it’s happening all over the world. By investing in these origins, people are able to make a fair and decent living. Creating amenities, giving the people a future, giving their children a future and getting them to stay and manage the land creates a sustainable supply chain for chocolate.”