Two months ago, chocolate giant Barry Callebaut shut the doors to one of its largest factories situated in Wieze, Belgium, over an outbreak of salmonella found in batches of lecithin. 

The contamination required chocolate production at the facility to come to an immediate halt, while it underwent a deep cleaning process to rid the location of the harmful bacteria. The company has recently announced that they have resumed operations as scheduled, albeit at a reduced rate. 

We remain cautious because this operation is unprecedented; the process of cleaning and disinfection takes a lot of time.

Korneel Warlop, Representative, Barry Callebaut

On 17 June, the Belgian health authorities announced that the chocolate factory may reopen for a three-month test phase.

The factory is currently running only 3 of its 24 production lines, with the first delivery already having taken place. Warlop said that they expect to reactivate more production lines “in the weeks to come.” The incident highlights just how impactful such an outbreak can be.

I expect a 2% group impact on a full-year basis from the factory’s temporary closure, its biggest and around a fifth of group volume.

Jon Cox, Analyst, Kepler Cheuvreux

The plant doesn’t sell chocolate directly to consumers but rather supplies ingredients to many of the well-known industry names, such as Hershey’s, Nestlé and Unilever.

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