Barry Callebaut to open Chocolate Academy in Chicago

Upon having established its North American headquarters in Chicago last year, it only made sense for Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest processor of cocoa and chocolate, to set up its tenth Chocolate Academy in the Windy City.
Although similar in nature to its nine other academies located around the globe, the 8,500-sq.-ft. training center in Chicago can boast of being the largest, albeit by only a few square feet.
Similar to its siblings, it will be a place “for professional users, offering a diverse range of seminars, demonstrations, theoretical courses and practical workshops designed to inspire artisans and culinary professionals, including pastry chefs, confectioners, bakers and caterers.”
The new academy, scheduled for completion this September, will be the first one to be built in the United States.
“We started from scratch in designing it,” says Eric Martinet, vice president of Barry Callebaut’s gourmet division in North and Central America. “It will have an auditorium, laboratory and welcome bar and feature all the equipment necessary for teaching and producing chocolate, everything from marble tables to tempering, enrobing and moulding machines.”
Classes, as is the tradition within Barry Callebaut’s Chocolate Academies, will be small, involving between 10 to 12 professionals. The courses will range from broad-based seminars detailing the origins of chocolate to more specialized classes dealing with moulding, enrobing and sculpting techniques.
“For more than 20 years, Barry Callebaut experts have offered tailor-made courses to specialists,” said Patrick Peeters, technical advisor to the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. “In our nine Chocolate Academies around the world, about 500 chocolatiers, confectioners and chefs gather each week, and more than 3,000 chefs in the United states are already participating in Chocolate Academy events each year.”
Martinet also pointed out that the Chicago Chocolate Academy will tailor its programs to prevailing U.S. chocolate trends and tastes, everything from flavor preferences to dessert sizes.
“An experienced European chef with many years of experience will head up the Academy,” he adds, “but he will have help from several technical advisors.” In addition, Barry Callebaut will call on its army of “ambassadors,” more than 70 professional chefs and confectioners associated with Barry Callebaut, to visit and teach courses at the training center.
The new Chocolate Academy will be located adjacent to the company’s North American headquarters, which are located on 600 W. Chicago Ave. on the eighth floor.

Wrigley revamps gum brands to boost U.S. sales

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has introduced new packaging and flavors for Extra, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Winterfresh and Wrigley’s Spearmint in response to a 7% drop in U.S. sales volume. The gum will come in a Slim Pack, a thin 15-stick envelope package that fits more easily into pockets and purses. The new flavors should make the gum “better tasting and longer lasting,” says Bill Perez, president and ceo. Both new brands will have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The new, slim packaging for the gum should attract young adults and teenagers the way 5-brand gum and Orbit have. The Extra and Wrigley’s brands gum should come out next month.
While Wrigley’s sales did very well in overseas marketplaces, they decreased in North America. Perez, however, has confidence in the new packages and flavors of Wrigley’s and Extra brands of gum to restore sales in the U.S. and believes increases will take effect in the second half of 2008.

Candy House receives prominent award

Candy House Gourmet Chocolates, owned by Terry and Pat Hicklin, was presented with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon Small Business Award, which recognizes the company’s achievements in several categories. The company is famous for its hand-dipped chocolates and also prides itself on its English toffee, caramel pecan treats, caramel nut corn, chocolate-covered strawberries and caramel nut apples. The Candy House was one of 55 businesses nationwide to receive the award.

ALL CANDY EXPO springs forward

The ALL CANDY EXPO, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, returns to its spring time slot this year and will be held May 20-22, 2008 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. Close to 500 exhibitors will present their favorite new and returning products at the largest confectionery and snack trade show in the Americas.
The EXPO also features a newly-expanded gourmet marketplace, new product showcase, and merchandising section. The merchandising showcase, which is new to the EXPO, exhibits the latest cutting edge retail merchandising displays. In addition, leading manufacturers will speak about current and future trends as well as inform people of how merchandising can help boost profits. For more information visit

Hershey welcomes new execs

Charlene Binder has recently joined Hershey as senior vice president, chief people officer. She will report to David J. West, president and chief executive officer, and be responsible for global human resources, total compensation and benefits, corporate communications, flight operations and facilities management.
“Charlene will lead our continued efforts to develop the organization structure and talent to support Hershey’s global growth. I look forward to working with her as we engage our employees and develop the people and processes to drive our long-term success,” West said.
In addition, James George, previously vice president, global packaging, was appointed v.p. of community relations. He will report to John Long, v.p., corporate social responsibility. George’s primary duty will be working locally and internationally to strengthen Hershey’s involvement in the community. His other responsibilities will include overseeing corporate giving, reinforcing ties with Milton Hershey School and managing charitable sponsorships, such as United Way and Children’s Miracle Network.
“Jim has been a respected leader at the company and in the Hershey community for more than two decades,” said David West, president and ceo. “His deep commitment and knowledge of the community will enable him to build on this central part of our heritage and continue to ensure that Hershey makes a positive difference in the communities where we live, work and do business.”

Silverstein appointed ceo of Topps

The Topps Company, creator and marketer of such products as Ring Pop, Bazooka and Push Pop, has named Scott Silverstein president and ceo. Silverstein joined the company in 1993 as general counsel before being promoted in 2004 to president and chief operating officer.
“I have been very impressed with Scott as a leader, his knowledge of The Topps Company, and his enthusiasm for the future of the sports, entertainment and confection business in which Topps participates,” said Michael D. Eisner, whose Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners acquired Topps in 2007. “I am looking forward to working with Scott to grow Topps internally and through strategic acquisitions.”

Symrise to acquire Chr. Hansen's flavors business

Flavor and scent manufacturer Symrise has signed an agreement to purchase the flavors division of Chr. Hansen, previously owned by the PAI Partners capital fund. The transaction will allow Symrise to expand its product portfolio and should be complete by the end of this month.
“The client structure and core competences of both companies are a perfect match… Combining our strengths will create new market possibilities and business models for us,” says Dr. Heinz-Juergen Bertram, global president Flavor & Nutrition.

Danisco plans to spin-off sugar operations this year

Danish company Danisco has moved forward its plans to spin-off its sugar division before the end of the year. In 2007, the company announced its intention to split its sugar division from food ingredients, but the board voted against the decision due to the implementation of the new sugar regime in 2006. Now, the better outlook for European sugar has allowed the company to revisit its plan.
Danisco hopes that having two separate companies will ensure the best development opportunities for sugar and food ingredients while giving shareholders a choice between the two. Whether Danisco ends up splitting or selling, approval will be asked of shareholders.

Wolff to sell off part of business

Hydrocolloids producer and distributor Alfred L Wolff plans to sell part of its business in order to focus on gum arabic and agar-agar. The company will also take control of shellac, dammar and copal. The change should move Wolff away from lower value ingredients and toward popular, healthy ingredients. Gum arabic and agar-agar have proven to follow the trend of healthy eating.
“For the first six months of this year we are changing a lot of things in our organization to focus on our key products,” said Anita Benech, marketing manager for Alfred L Wolff.

Stacy Shoup joins Spangler's marketing team

Hired as a marketing administrator by Spangler Candy Co. earlier this year, Stacy Shoup, a marketing major from University of Toledo, will handle a variety of responsibilities including performing public relations duties, updating trademarks and e-mail newsletters, and spearheading various marketing projects.

Blommer Chocolate's Krueger retires, McCullough to head Signature Line

Martin “Marty” Krueger, senior executive vice president of Chicago-based Blommer Chocolate Co. with 27 years of service, retired January 2008. Krueger joined Blommer in 1981 to run the East Greenville, Penn. start-up location. As the ‘hands-on’ guiding force of the facility, Krueger was instrumental in the mentoring and development of staff, including the management team; managing equipment and facility expansions; and promoting product line expansions, including Blommer’s premium chocolate Signature Line. Krueger has been a respected leader in the cocoa industry for many years, building a reputation of integrity and trust. He will now concentrate on continuing education with a focus in financial planning.
Taking over as Blommer’s Signature Line brand manager is Bob McCullough. McCullough’s strong knowledge base within the dairy, bakery and confectionery industries, coupled with exceptional food manufacturing sales experience from Saputo Cheese USA and ADM Cocoa, ensure a smooth succession. He will work in the East Greenville, Penn. location.

Chocotech promotes McDermott to head sales, marketing

CHOCOTECH GmbH of Wernigerode, Germany-based Chocotech GmbH, a fully owned subsidiary of the Sollich Group, has promoted Martin McDermott to director of sales & marketing. McDermott, who has more than 20 years of technical sales experience in the confectionery industry, previously held positions as area sales manager and export manager with two other major equipment manufacturers in Germany before joining Chocotech in 2004. He will report to Erhard Hilker, managing director.
In addition to his new responsibilities, McDermott will continue his active sales duties on the North American, British, Scandinavian and South African markets.

J.L. Clark's premium metal container line available in low quantities

Rockford, Ill.-based specialty packaging manufacturer J.L. Clark has introduced a new line of premium metal containers available in low minimum order quantities and with a variety of highly desirable sizes, styles, and customization options.
The new family of products enables manufacturers to take advantage of all the benefits of the company’s highly decorative metal containers, but with the flexibility to order in smaller quantities than typically required with packaging of this type.
Now ‘metal makes sense’ for more manufacturers, and more packaging applications, than ever before, says Michael Matus, v.p. – sales & marketing. “We call it ‘Any way you like it!’ packaging, because customers now have more options to package their products in ways that consumers find highly desirable.”