Aalst Chocolate, a Cargill-owned company, has recently celebrated its 20th year anniversary since its founding with plans to grow its Asia Pacific (APAC) market via its unique ‘bean to bar’ positioning and customer-led product innovation.
Aalst Chocolate is the first Singaporean brand to produce both chocolate couvertures and compounds and has since built a solid foundation as a leading Asian chocolate manufacturer with product offerings curated especially for the Asian consumers.
Xiaoling Liu, Managing Director, Aalst Chocolate and Indulgence Leader, Food Solutions Asia Pacific, Cargill said, “We are seeing a growing appetite for chocolate among consumers across the APAC region driven primarily by a large youth population, higher disposable incomes and emerging trends such as prioritization of indulgence, mindful eating and sustainability. People still want to enjoy tasty flavorful treats while being more conscious about the quality, nutritional value and source of the foods they are consuming.”
Based on Cargill’s proprietary TrendTracker 2023 study, 81% of APAC consumers have tried to improve their overall health in ways such as choosing healthier options when it comes to their diet. At the same time, 58% said that it is important to indulge or pamper themselves on a regular basis. Combining Cargill’s in-depth and region-specific market insights with Aalst’s innovative capabilities, Aalst has created products with nature-derived low-caloric sweetener, like Pâtissier Chocolate dark couverture 55% with no added sugar and Aalst mellow sweet white chocolate 34%, to respond to the growing consumer demand in Asia for healthy and mindful consumption.
Ms Liu emphasised that Asia is a dynamic market with fast-evolving consumer trends and taste preferences, which offers a clear opportunity for food manufacturers to innovate to meet these consumption demands. With Aalst’s established reputation, robust in-house innovation capabilities and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Singapore, it is well-poised to continue supporting its customers in their product development needs and work with them to co-create novel and indulging chocolate products for consumers.
In 2021, Aalst was acquired by global agri-commodity giant, Cargill, giving it a boost to accomplish its vision as not just a chocolate company, but to expand into becoming a “bean to bar” innovator, integrating and leveraging Cargill’s extensive cocoa sourcing capabilities and global cocoa customer networks.
Aalst’s local R&D expertise is supported by Cargill’s 4 Asian food innovation centers in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Gurgaon, which accelerate Aalst’s capability for product innovation tailored for Asian palates.
To better keep pace with consumers’ desire for unguilty pleasures and sustainability, the Cargill Cocoa Promise strengthens Aalst’s ability to help customers meet their sustainability goals. Aalst also has a Clean Label range of chocolate solutions under the Pâtissier Chocolate brand that meets the demand for greater supply chain transparency and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Francesca Kleemans, Managing Director, Food Solutions Southeast Asia, Cargill said, “Today, Asia accounts for about 25% of cocoa consumption in the world. It is the fastest growing region in terms of volume, value and especially stands out for its immense innovation potential. Within the next 10 years, Asia is expected to overtake North America as the 2nd largest chocolate market in the world. By unlocking the power of our “bean to bar” supply chain, insights-driven innovation and customized sustainability solutions, we see Aalst as a driving force shaping the chocolate sector through innovation in Asia and the world, delivering greater value as the partner of choice for innovation and growth.”