Cargill Inc. broke ground Tuesday on a $100 million cocoa processing plant in Indonesia, the agribusiness giant’s first such operation in Asia.
Minnetonka-based Cargill is one of the world’s largest cocoa processors, and Indonesia is the world’s third-largest cocoa bean producer, accounting for much of Asian production.
Cargill also has been rapidly growing its cocoa operations in Vietnam, buying and shipping the majority of that country’s cocoa crop.
The new processing plant “is very much geared toward the Asian market,” said Steve Fairbairn, a Cargill spokesman.
The Indonesian plant, located in Gresik in the country’s East Java region, will transform cocoa beans into cocoa butter, liquor and powder — the building blocks of chocolate.
The facility, expected to open in mid-2014, will increase Cargill’s overall cocoa processing capacity at a time when demand for chocolate products is strong and growing worldwide.
Plus, the Indonesian government in recent years increased taxes on raw cocoa exports in an effort to encourage cocoa companies to further process beans in Indonesia.
Cargill’s main cocoa operations are in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s two biggest cocoa producing nations. Cargill has a cocoa processing plant in each of those West African countries, and it operates several chocolate-making plants in Western Europe.
Cargill also is a major global producer of palm oil; it owns two palm plantations in Indonesia.