World’s largest chocolate box opens in Belgium

The warehouse’s solar panels generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes (Barry Callebaut Group)
Zurich-based confectioner Barry Callebaut Group has opened the world’s largest chocolate warehouse in the town of Lokaren, between Ghent and Antwerp in Belgium, in the form of a large box of the product.

The Barry Callebaut Chocolate Box, as the centre is called, covers an area the size of 12 football pitches, and stores all the chocolate and decorative products produced in Barry Callebaut’s factories in the Belgian towns of Wieze and Halle, from which they will be distributed to some 140 countries around the world.

The €100m project, which took 24 months to complete, is the result of a partnership between the chocolatier, local real estate developer Warehouses De Pauw and the city of Lokeren.

The location was chosen for its proximity to the E17 motorway, which connects the warehouse to the Port of Antwerp.

The warehouse is fully automated, and contains bays 41m in height, able to store up to 125,000 pallets at a constant temperature of 18°C. Over 120 employees, of whom 40 are in newly created positions, began work there on Wednesday.

The loading bays, from which the chocolates are sent to 140 countries (Barry Callebaut Group)

The building is also the first in the Benelux countries to be given a BREEAM Outstanding rating for sustainability. The building supplies its own power through rooftop solar panels and geothermal energy, as well as a sophisticated air-treatment system, rain water and heat recovery, humidity control and insulation.

Employee wellbeing is promoted through access to natural daylight throughout the deep-plan building, zones for relaxation and storage facilities for e-bikes.

Peter Boone, the chief executive of the Barry Callebaut Group, commented that the Chocolate Box was an example of how the company was executing its smart growth strategy, “increasing efficiency and serving our customers in a more sustainable way”.

The group was created in 1996 through the merging of the Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and the French rival Cacao Barry. It operates in over 30 countries worldwide and has an annual production of 2.1 million tonnes of cocoa products.

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