Cadbury deal could see a shake-up in chocolate supply chain

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 23rd November 2009

Chocolate processing giants Cargill and Barry Callebaut have suggested that any consolidation between the sector’s leading brand-owners could lead to more M&A activity among the industry’s suppliers.

The speculation over Cadbury’s future has prompted some of the world’s largest business-to-business chocolate makers to ponder future changes to the competitive landscape of their part of the supply chain.

Speaking to just-food, Cargill Chocolate managing director Filip Buggenhout claimed the interest shown by Kraft Foods in Cadbury – as well as this week’s disclosures that Hershey and Ferrero are mulling their options over the UK firm – indicated the chocolate industry could soon see a wave of deals.

“You could say that the chocolate and confectionery space is already rather consolidated but reality proves that there is another round about to happen,” Buggenhout told just-food at the Food Ingredients Europe exhibition in Frankfurt.

“In the past, it’s driven consolidation in our part of the chain and there is no reason to think that will be different in the future.”

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest B2B chocolate manufacturer, and supplier to customers including Nestle and Cadbury, echoed its rival’s views.

Patrick Hautphenne, vice president for Barry Callebaut’s food manufacturers division in northern Europe, said the B2B sector had seen a raft of deals in recent years.

Hautphenne pointed to Barry Callebaut’s deal, signed just two weeks ago, to buy Spanish chocolate maker Chocovic. He also cited Archer Daniels Midland’s January acquisition of German chocolate and cocoa powder maker Schokinag. “I think [consolidation] will go further,” he said.

Both men, however, were coy about whether Cargill and Barry Callebaut would play an active part in any consolidation in the chocolate supply chain.

Nevertheless, Barry Callebaut’s Patrick Hautphenne admitted global expansion would continue to be a priority for what he said was “really a European company” just a few years ago.

“We want to be a global player – and the market for the future is Asia,” he said.

just-food is the world’s leading portal for the global pre-packaged food and retail industries. Its daily mix of breaking news, views, analysis and research serves over 100,000 food executives each month.