Belcolade, a Belgian subsidiary of Puratos, expands its chocolate factory situated in Erembodegem. Worth over 120 million euros, this is Puratos’ largest investment so far. The goal? To double the production capacity and to become "Belgium's first 100% carbon-neutral chocolate factory".
Belcolade sees the future of chocolate in a different and better way, and has been CO2-neutral since the beginning of 2024 by implementing green energy, solar panels and advanced heat pumps that make heat production processes much more efficient. By building a new substantial rainwater storage capacity, Belcolade can meet 90% of its water needs itself.
Belcolade wants to grow in a sustainable way, so its factory is growing along with them: "Today, chocolate makes up about 25 per cent of our group turnover," says Youri Dumont, general director of the chocolate division. "That should become a third by 2030."
A new production line was recently introduced to respond to new consumer preferences, such as lactose-free chocolate, where milk powder is replaced by protein from peas, for example. By doubling capacity in time, Belcolade can respond even better to the rising demand for sustainable and tasty chocolate. Furthermore, Belcolade is also transitioning to fully sustainable and 100% recyclable packaging. "From production, to packaging, everything is sustainable," states general director Dumont.
100 new jobs
This expansion does not only demonstrate the commitment to energy and the environment, but will also simultaneously create 100 new jobs in the coming years. Belcolade is investing significantly in training its employees and hopes therefore to forge closer links with education in the region. Today, they are already focusing on dual learning and offering internships to young talent.
Belcolade has been a convinced partner of 'Beyond Chocolate', the Belgian partnership for sustainable cocoa, from its inception in 2018. Dumont stresses the importance of this: "The goal is to have all chocolate in Belgium certified by the end of 2025. Belcolade maintains direct contact with cocoa farmers and helps to ensure them with a living income."
With the proprietary ‘Cacao-Trace programme’, cocoa farmers receive a better price for their beans and an extra chocolate bonus for every kilo of Cacao-Trace chocolate.