On April 27, Olam Cocoa held the opening of its latest Cocoa Innovation Centre in Willowbrook, IL. The new facility—located just outside of Chicago and 15 miles from Chicago’s Midway International Airport—will provide innovation capabilities to support Olam Cocoa’s North American customers.

The Cocoa Innovation Centre is one of six such Olam Cocoa facilities globally, with others located in Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore and England. It will serve as a destination to assist customers in the refinement and reformulation of existing recipes, provide proof of concept opportunities and aid in the development of new products across application categories like beverage, cereals, snacks, chocolate, confectionery, dairy and bakery.

“The facility will also host regular educational and application-specific seminars as part of a range of services designed to greatly reduce product development cycle timelines and help customers keep pace with changing consumer tastes and market trends,” said Rinus Heemskerk, global head of product development & innovation, Olam Cocoa.

“The Cocoa Innovation Centre will help our customers extract the value out of cocoa,” said Heemskerk. The interactive environment of the facility will foster opportunities for cost reduction, formula optimization and new concept development. “This will result in a tremendous gain in time during research and development,” he noted.

The Cocoa Innovation Centre has multiple pilot plant capabilities, with multiple R&D capabilities suited to snack, bakery, candy and confectionery, including an incubator for carrying out shelf-life studies, a spectrometer for color analysis and chocolate refiner conche technology.

During the opening, Olam Cocoa Innovation Centre staff offered multiple tastings to demonstrate the sensory differences between various types of cocoa, including TrueDark, a natural, dark, nonalkalized cocoa powder. It can be labelled simply as “cocoa,” and is suited to clean-label product development. Samples included:

  • Reduced-sugar chocolate, compound coating and cocoa-coated cereal pieces
  • Baked goods, including muffins and cookies
  • Dairy products, including chocolate milk and ice cream

The sampling and demonstrations highlighted cocoa powder’s ability to help reduce added sugar levels when included in the formula at higher-than-usual use levels. When used at higher levels, cocoa also provides an auxiliary benefit of increased fiber levels. The samples also showcased the different color flavor possibilities related to cocoa powder selection.

HuysmanOlam Cocoa also unveiled new branding for its portfolio of cocoa product brands, deZaan, Unicao, Macao, and Joanes, as well as announcing the launch of a completely new cocoa product brand for the North American and Asia Pacific markets, Huysman, offering a focused selection of value-driven, best-in-class cocoa powders.

“The North American market continues to see growing demand for products containing cocoa as exemplified by the recent projection that the U.S. chocolate market’s retail value sales will grow by 9.9 percent from 2016 to 2021,” said Matthias Richter, vice president of cocoa for North America, Olam Cocoa, citing Euromonitor research. “As experienced by our customers at today’s opening, this Cocoa Innovation Centre is a valuable resource that will help them to maximize opportunities related to these demand increases.”

Gerard A. Manley, CEO, Olam Cocoa, added: “By investing in facilities like Willowbrook, we support our customers to satisfy consumer needs, and by being transparent on issues such as sustainability and product provenance, we are also ensuring that the future of our cocoa growers is protected, and that we are working to provide a continued, healthy market for their cocoa.”


About Olam Cocoa

Olam Cocoa is an integrated cocoa business that supplies cocoa beans and cocoa products. Olam Cocoa is the leading originator of cocoa beans, a globally leading cocoa processor, and the world’s foremost, focused supplier of cocoa beans and cocoa products. Cocoa beans are sourced from all major origins across Africa, Asia and South America, and Olam Cocoa’s portfolio of respected brands is spearheaded by the iconic deZaan, with its heritage of more than 100 years of excellence, as well as African origin brand Unicao, South American origin brand Joanes, the well-established Macao cocoa powders and Britannia specialty fats brands, and the recently launched Huysman cocoa powder brand. Olam Cocoa has processing, refining and milling presence in the main cocoa producing countries, as well as in, or adjacent to, primary consumption markets in Europe, U.S., Canada and Asia. Alongside a substantial operational infrastructure, Olam Cocoa recognizes the clear responsibility to operate sustainably and grow responsibly. As the world’s leading supplier of sustainable cocoa, Olam Cocoa is accelerating progress towards the goal of 100 percent sustainably sourced cocoa by 2020.


About Olam International

Olam logoOlam International is a leading agribusiness operating across the value chain in 70 countries, supplying various products across 18 platforms to 23,000 customers worldwide. From a direct sourcing and processing presence in most major producing countries, Olam has built a global leadership position in many of its businesses. Headquartered in Singapore and listed on the SGX-ST, Olam currently ranks among the top 30 largest primary listed companies in Singapore in terms of market capitalization. More information on Olam can be found at www.olamgroup.com