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Crown of Holland: Tradin opens new cocoa factory

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

A long cherished wish becomes a reality. In the middle of June, the Dutch raw materials specialist Tradin Organic started operating its brand new cocoa processing plant near Amsterdam. The modern factory enables the company to work flexibly and to tailor products to meet precisely the requirements of the customer. Traditional whole- bean roasting – a process scarcely used today – brings out the special aroma of cocoa beans. Crown of Holland is a further stage in Tradin Organic’s creation of its own refining projects. Karin Heinze visited Crown of Holland.

(Picture: Factory manager Ruud Houwing standing in front of the new cocoa processing facility)

TradinOrganic was one of the first companies to have its imported organic cocoa beans processed in Holland. Over 20 years ago in Amsterdam, the entrepreneurs Wim Rabbi and Gerard Versteegh (picture), began marketing organic cocoa products. Since 2005, they’ve had plans to switch from having processing done by other companies to in-house processing. Gerard Versteegh explains: ”We always aim to achieve 100 % quality, transparency and traceability, but they can’t be guaranteed without reservation in the case of contracted processing, since we don’t control all stages of production ourselves.

Up to now there hasn’t been a single processor of solely organic cocoa. Crown of Holland is our own facility, and that gives us the advantage of being able to offer specific specialities like whole-bean roasting and single-origin. We’re particularly flexible – we can produce smaller batches tailored to what the customer wants and offer them solutions for their innovative product ideas.” (Picture: The Tradin Organic’s headquarters are not far from Amsterdam’s main railway station, with a view over the city)

The new cocoa processing plant is located in a recently developed business park that has been designed with sustainability in mind. It is about 40 Kilometres from the company headquarters in the centre of Amsterdam. The Tradin factory is one of the first on the huge site of Agriport A 7 near Middenmeer, so there’s still plenty of space. The production facility and the warehouse for 75 t of goods occupy roughly 2,500 m2. (Picture: Cocoa butter - Crown of Holland specializes in whole-bean roasting and aims to supply speciality manufacturers  with especially aromatic raw materials)

After a trial phase, they will be working in shifts round the clock, and they are creating 30 new jobs. The plant itself was made by a German manufacturer and is state-of-the-art technology that has a capacity of 10,000 t, with the option of doubling that figure. Tradin has invested approximately €10m. “The end products we sell are liquid cocoa butter, butter and cocoa powder (20%-22% fat, 10%-12% fat),” explains Marieke Kaandorp, who works in the department cocoa, sugar, oils and fats and is also responsible for marketing Crown of Holland products. (Picture: Selected raw materials, ultra-modern technology and experienced specialists are the basis of top quality. Here: cocoa press cake)

When the cocoa harvests from all over the world are unloaded  in April and May, they are first taken to the Tradin warehouse in the harbour of Amsterdam, from where they are sent in smaller quantities by lorry to Middenmeer for processing. The facility produces liquid cocoa butter, that can be transported to customers in temperature-controlled tankers, cocoa mass and cocoa powder, that are stored in a special warehouse in Barneveld until they are needed. (Picture: Factory manager Ruud Houwing is thrilled with the new facility)

„The unique feature of Crown of Holland is  whole- bean roasting,” explains Ruud Houwing, the technical manager of the plant.  The engineer has almost 30 years experience in cocoa processing and is pleased that he can use this traditional method, that is no longer common today. “Whole-bean roasting has a positive effect on the aroma, but calls for experience and time, which means that it is no longer used in the industry,” says Houwing. Jelle Kuiper is also a skilled cocoa processor – he has been an adviser to Tradin for four years, and now he runs Crown of Holland. (Picture from left: The skilled team of production manager Ruud Houwing (above), buyer Julien Aillerie and factory manager Jelle Kuiper)

Amsterdam is the biggest trans-shipment  centre for cocoa worldwide. Approximately 550,000 t of cocoa beans arrive every year from all over the world, and in many cases they are processed there too. Since Tradin has been an importer of cocoa for over 20 years, it has good contacts with the top producing countries, so that the best beans are selected. The most important suppliers are the Dominican Republic and Peru, followed by Uganda and Ghana. Tradin is making contact with new projects in Ecuador and Bolivia. “We’re in the process of trying to get regular supplies from Papua New Guinea,” buyer Julien Aillerie (on the right in the picture) is pleased to report. Crown of Holland processes mainly organic and Fairtrade beans, but they also produce UTZ and certified Rainforest Alliance cocoa on request. (Picture: The cocoa beans are dried in the country of origin before being shipped to Holland)

”At the moment, we’re very pleased with the market in the USA,” says Versteegh, and points out that in Europe growth of chocolate and cocoa products is slow but steady. Tradin Organic and Crown of Holland supply customers in the typical European countries that manufacture chocolate - Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands, plus some going to Japan. “We haven’t built the factory to compete with the big conventional cocoa processors – we’re far too small for that. Instead, our aim is to benefit from a high degree of flexibility, top-level quality and specialities, and from supplying exclusively the organic and Fairtrade market,” Versteegh explains. (Picture: Ruud Houwing and Julien Aillerie discussing the quality of cocoa beans)

Video: Testing the ultra-modern plant: the first cocoa press cake



Versteegh: “We’re really pleased we’ve been able to set up our own processing. As well as special roasting, our potential lies in the origin of the beans. In many cases, the projects have their own history. Social-ecological and ethical arguments are today increasingly important in marketing specialities. At Crown of Holland we come full circle: we’re part of the sustainable project Agriport A 7, where the cocoa shells (90 %) are used for mulch, compost or in cattle fodder.” He says the biggest challenge is finding enough raw materials of high quality and shipping them in a good condition to Amsterdam. Versteegh is looking forward to lively demand for the products of Crown of Holland. (Picture: A section of the complex plant)





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