The Puratos Group has announced that it has begun a major expansion at its Belcolade facility in Erembodegem, Belgium.

As well as significantly increasing capacity and boosting flexibility to better serve customers worldwide, the expanded Erembodegem site will enable accelerated innovation. Importantly, it will also be an “exemplar of sustainable chocolate production,” according to Jean-Philippe Michaux, CFO and head of the sustainability steering committee at Puratos. Upon completion of the first phase in 2023, Belcolade will be reconfirmed as the chocolate of choice for chocolatiers, pâtissiers, and bakers.

“With consumer demand for sustainable Belgian chocolate rapidly accelerating, and as the only Belgian family-owned producer of that for professionals here, it was an obvious move for us to expand in Erembodegem,” states Youri Dumont, director of the chocolate business unit at Puratos. “We will nearly double our Belcolade output over the next five years, with customers benefitting from inspiring innovation brought to market faster than ever before.”

The development of Belcolade is attributable to Puratos’ Cacao- Trace program and the high-quality cocoa ingredients it provides. More than any other comparable sourcing program, Cacao-Trace benefits the cocoa farmers, who receive a better price for their quality beans and an extra Chocolate Bonus for every kilo of Cacao-Trace chocolate sold.

In line with Puratos’ commitment to future generations, the entire Belcolade site will become carbon neutral. It will run 100 percent on renewable electricity and therefore be completely free from fossil fuels. The facility will also source 90 percent of its water from collected rainwater. These measures are fundamental to the company’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, according to Michaux. This investment will be financed with a new sustainable loan granted by KBC.

Commenting on the investment, Dumont says: “Back in the ‘80s, Puratos decided to protect one of the most precious elements of Belgium’s culinary heritage, Belgian chocolate. As a result, in 1988, we invested in a factory and launched the Belcolade brand, offering the finest quality chocolate produced exclusively in Belgium, in Erembodegem. We are very excited about this expansion and the benefits it will bring to our valued customers, partners, employees and the local area, recruiting around 100 colleagues in the coming years. With our larger team of experienced, passionate, and trusted experts, state-of-the-art equipment, and a heritage firmly rooted in the heart of Belgium, we’re looking forward to bringing even more unique, delicious, and sustainable Cacao-Trace chocolate to the market.”