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The journey of cocoa butter
Product case

The journey of cocoa butter

Chocolate. We all know it, almost everyone loves it, and you probably have a favourite type, flavour or brand. One of its main ingredients is cocoa butter, which comes largely from Ivory Coast. But before it reaches the shelves as chocolate, cocoa butter goes on quite a journey.

The West African republic of Ivory Coast accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s production of cocoa beans – from which cocoa butter is made.  The lion’s share of all cocoa butter travels a long way before it’s processed into chocolate products. “Our company plays a significant role in that journey,” says Ivar van der Stam, Operations Manager for Van den Bosch DMCC (Dubai).

Weeks at sea
“We ship cocoa butter from African countries to the UK and mainland Europe,” Van der Stam continues. “We use our ISO tanks for transport. After a journey of several weeks by sea, the tanks reach land again in the British port of Hull, for example, from where we transport them by truck to their final destination of Goole. One of our most important customers is located there: Olam Food Ingredients (or ‘ofi’ for short), a global leader in natural food and beverage ingredients, such as for coffee.”

More cost-effective transport
Once the cocoa butter has been unloaded, the food industry takes over. Meanwhile, we take our ISO tanks to our tank cleaning facility, where they are prepared for the next load. Van der Stam: “Our customers require that we clean, rinse and seal our tanks according to European standards before we use them again.” In 2023 we opened a second cleaning facility. By being able to clean tanks in Ivory Coast and in Ghana, we’ll boost our logistics efficiency and sustainability ambitions even further. Bart van de Vorst, Managing Director of Van den Bosch in Dubai: “Cleaning in Ivory Coast means there are always clean, empty tanks available. We have built our new facility entirely in accordance with European quality standards for food, kosher and halal cleaning. We are now tapping into new markets and connect Africa and Europe.”

“With bulk transport we can simplify the logistics process and make it more sustainable”

Sustainability ambitions
The second tank cleaning facility was music to the ears of Warren Hardcastle, Head of Cocoa Logistics and Supply Chain for ofi's cocoa platform: “We’re constantly looking for ways to transport our cocoa ingredients even more sustainably. So, the partnership with Van den Bosch is very important. This latest partnership builds on measures we have already put in place across many of our cocoa processing facilities to make them more environmentally friendly – from circular biomass boilers run on cocoa shells to solar panels and wastewater recycling.”

This also includes converting traditional transport in blocks to bulk transport. “With bulk transport we can simplify the logistics process and make it more sustainable”, says Van der Stam. Hardcastle: “We have now converted 20 per cent of cocoa butter shipments coming from our Ivorian plants to the UK to a more cost-efficient fluid delivery model. And we’re convinced this is only going to increase – especially since we take advantage of the tank cleaning in Abidjan. Van den Bosch’s global presence in freight procurement also brings added value. That allows us to use various alternatives to shipping as we work towards an increasingly sophisticated intermodal transport model.”

Chocolate chip cookies
Now let’s jump to the moment when all those beautiful chocolate products appear on the shelves. “That’s still nice to see,” says Van der Stam, “especially when you buy some chocolate chip cookies and discover that the cocoa butter in them was shipped in our tanks. Every time I come across such an end product, it makes me happy.”

Interested in the possibilities for your product?
Contact Van den Bosch and optimise your supply chain.

This is an shortened version of an article from our Game Changer Magazine

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“I get an enormous kick when we succeed in finding new ways to optimise our clients’ supply chains”

Van den Bosch Paul van de Vorle – Director Business Development