On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, Flanders. Dubbed 'The Chocolate Box', it will serve as the central hub from where packaged chocolate will be shipped around the world.
The company produces over two million tonnes of chocolate each year, one quarter in Belgium. The new site will sell chocolate wholesale to smaller businesses in the professional confectionary sector.
Strategically situated on the E17 motorway between Ghent and Antwerp, the hub is close to Antwerp port making it an ideal hub for global exports and will help meet the company's annual growth of 5%. Previously, Barry Callebaut products had been stocked in a number of warehouses, which complicated delivery.
The warehouse required a record investment of €100 million and has a surface area equivalent t 12 football pitches. It can house 125,000 palettes and is capable of processing 60,000 m2 of chocolate each year. 120 full-time employees will work there, of which 40 are new roles created specifically for the site.
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In addition, the energy-neutral warehouse has obtained the BREEAM certification – the first given out for such a site in the Benelux – for its sustainable attributes.
"The Chocolate Box is a milestone for us and shows our commitment to growth as well as our ambition to serve clients sustainably and efficiently,' group CEO Peter Boone said.