Global agribusiness giant Cargill has completed a US$100M cocoa processing expansion in Côte d’Ivoire to meet demand for dark brown cocoa powders, the company announced on 2 November.

The new cocoa-grinding plant in Yopougon would lead to a 50% increase in production, Cargill said, with dark brown cocoa powders representing a significant share of the additional processing capacity.

“Consumers, especially in Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African markets, are increasingly drawn to bakery and confectionery products with the strong, chocolatey visual appeal made possible by rich, deep brown cocoa powders,” Niels Boetje, cocoa managing director for Cargill’s cocoa & chocolate business, said.

“With the new technology installed at our Yopougon plant, we’re now better equipped to supply the full range of our customers’ needs.”

The Yopougon expansion was in line with the company’s wider plan to transform the cocoa sector, the Cargill said.

“This investment will serve as a catalyst for the establishment of a broader, local agri-food industry, as we shift a greater share of our global grinding activities to the countries of origin,” Cargill cocoa & chocolate president Harold Poelma said.

By partnering with governments and other key stakeholders in West Africa, Poelma said Cargill aimed to drive economic growth in cocoa-origin countries through the company’s cocoa-processing operations, sustainability activities and other collaborations.

Active in Côte d’Ivoire for more than two decades, Cargill opened the Yopougon plant in 2000.

The upgraded facility produces cocoa powder, cocoa butter, liquid cocoa liquor and solid cocoa liquor.