Former Cargill Manager Buys Dutch Cocoa Factory With Partners

ABIDJAN (Capital Markets in Africa) – Pieter Schulting, a former manager at Cargill Incorporation, and two partners have bought Dutch cocoa processor Jan Schoemaker BV.

A deal for the 94-year-old company, the last independent cocoa factory in the Netherlands, was signed in late September, according to Schulting. The partners, Daan Reitsma and Paul Silva da Cruz, are managers at Jan Schoemaker. He didn’t disclose the value of the deal.

The new management is now operating the business, which focuses on buying non-conventional raw materials such as cocoa nibs and small beans to make cocoa butter, according to Schulting, who spent seven years at Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate unit. They also run a cocoa powder factory, which opened about six months ago after two years of construction.

“The nice thing about Jan Schoemaker, apart from the legacy, is that we operate in the niche of the industry,” Schulting said by phone Tuesday. “That’s always attractive from a financial perspective.”

Processing cocoa beans has become more profitable after futures tumbled 31 percent in the past year. The so-called combined ratio, a measure of grinding profitability, last month touched the highest in more than a decade in Europe, according to data from Knowledge Charts, a unit of researcher Commodities Risk Analysis.

The European cocoa industry has consolidated over the years and the Dutch market is largely run by giants, such as Olam International Limited, Cargill and Ecom Agroindustrial Corp. Jan Schoemaker, based in Zaandam, was bought from the previous owners Karel Reitsma, Henk Kaandorp and Nick Jan Cramer, who had been in charge of the business for the past 30 years, according to an emailed statement.

The company makes cocoa products for the confectionery, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries and can process 30,000 metric tons of cocoa a year, Schulting said. It employs more than 100 people in subsidiaries in the Netherlands and West Africa.

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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