For Switzerland-headquartered Barry Callebaut, a major supplier of chocolate and cocoa products, using Singapore as a control tower for its Asian supply chain has proven essential to its regional expansion.
From China to India, Asians are eating more chocolate as incomes expand and consumers develop a taste for new chocolate experiences. Anticipated to be one of the fastest-growing chocolate regions in the world, Euromonitor International’s five-year forecast estimates that Asia-Pacific’s chocolate market will expand by 23 per cent by 2018.
One company that has taken a bite out of this growth is B2B chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut. Its regional footprint includes nine chocolate and cocoa factories, four Chocolate Academy centres that train chefs and students, and seven research and development facilities.
Asia-Pacific president Ben De Schryver says its growth in the region is being driven by China, India and Southeast Asia. In fact, Barry Callebaut has seen sales volume in Asia continue to grow ahead of the overall chocolate confectionery market in the region over the last three years.
“Asia is both an excellent geographic location for processing and manufacturing, as well as a great consumption market, with demand for confectionery products expected to increase in the next few years,” he says.
Individual markets have also presented unique opportunities, which guides how the company structures its operations in Asia.
De Schryver adds, “Indonesia, for example, which is one of the biggest cocoa-processing markets in the world, is where our cocoa factories are structured,” he says. “China, which is seeing a growing demographic for gourmet, is where we have doubled down on our gourmet offerings by refreshing our portfolio and enhancing our capabilities via e-commerce.”
Using Singapore to access Asia
Having operated in Asia for 20 years, Barry Callebaut first established its presence when it opened a factory in Singapore – now its largest in the region. The Singapore factory is now joined by factories in China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
To meet the growing demand in the region, the largest manufacturer of industrial chocolate and cocoa products in Asia also expanded its Singapore factory a year ago, increasing chocolate production volume capacity by more than 20 per cent.
The upgrade included installing a third production line, a chocolate chips/drops moulding line and a warehouse, allowing the manufacturer to cater to customer demand more efficiently by producing different recipes or product shapes and sizes, as well as increase revenue.
From just one factory in Singapore, the company has now made the Southeast Asian nation the home of its regional headquarters, with more than 200 employees across sales, finance, supply chain management and other corporate functions.
“Singapore’s excellent geographic location as a gateway to Asia, coupled with its manufacturing prowess, reputation for ease of business and its potential as a pivotal hub location made it an ideal entry choice,” De Schryver says.