UPDATE 1-Cargill boosts chocolate making despite global bean deficit

Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:59pm EST
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* Cargill to spend $48 million on chocolate plant expansion

* Europe processes 40 pct of the world's cocoa beans

By Marcy Nicholson

NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Cargill, one of the world's top cocoa dealers, is doubling capacity at its biggest European chocolate facility to meet growing demand, the company said on Monday, despite expectations of another global bean deficit.

Cargill will spend $48 million to expand its chocolate making facility in Mouscron, Belgium, over the next two years as demand grows in Europe. New production lines are set to be operational in summer 2014, the company said in a release.

The capacity of the Belgian plant, one of two owned by the company there according to its website, was not provided.

The move comes as cocoa prices hover around the highest levels in more than two years, sugar nears five-month lows and sources say Cargill is in negotiations to buy Archer Daniels Midland Co's cocoa business.

"There are good profits to be made in making chocolate as retail prices are rising, consumers are eating more, and sugar is half the price it was and accounts for around 50 percent of chocolate," one veteran cocoa dealer said.

Cargill is one of the four so-called "ABCD" companies that dominate the flow of global agricultural commodities and is one of the biggest buyers of cocoa with bean operations in Europe, West Africa, Asia, the United States and Brazil.   Continued...