Cargill is to buy the international chocolate business of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) for $440m (£226.4m), which will include its Liverpool chocolate plant. 

The acquisition of ADM’s chocolate business will merge the two organisations, with the aim to increase customer base and development capability, said Cargill.

Bryan Wurscher, president of Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate North America said: “This acquisition is a major milestone in Cargill’s chocolate growth strategy and will help us better serve our customers in North America and Europe.

“It will bring together great people with a deep passion and commitment to producing excellent chocolate. Our customers will benefit from a broader product portfolio, greater access to innovation and product development support.”

The transaction includes the company’s three European sites, as well as its three North American plants.

The new facilities will extend Cargill’s existing stake in the chocolate market, across North America, Europe, Asia and Brazil.

Increased potential

The company hopes that by combining the businesses, it will offer advanced capabilities and broader product ranges to the chocolate market.

Jos de Loor, president Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate EMEA and Asia said: “Cocoa and chocolate products have been key contributors to Cargill’s business since 1979.

“We continue to invest strongly in the development of our own facilities and people, and we welcome the opportunity to embrace these new operations and further build on our success together.”

Cargill’s product portfolio will also add ADM’s Ambrosia, Merckens and Schokinag brands. Upon completion Cargill will gain approximately 700 new employees.

At the time of closing, ADM will be ending cocoa processing operations at Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which will result in the loss of about 90 jobs. 

Strengthening plans

Patricia A. Woertz, ADM chairman and CEO said: “As part of our ongoing portfolio management, we considered several options to strengthen the returns of this part of our business.

"The sale of the chocolate business helps improve ADM’s returns and will allow us to redeploy capital for higher-return investments.” 

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in the United States and the European Union. It is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

In October last year, it was reported that Cargill would buy rival ADM, but nothing was confirmed.